• October 20, 2011

    BSR has commissioned a number of National Academies reports on topics such as global aging trends; data confidentiality and accessibility; health care cost growth and output measurement; and the psychology of aging. Please see BSR's page for a list of NAS reports available online or if you prefer, a CD which contains PDFs of these reports is also available. For a copy of the CD, please contact

  • November 8, 2010

    Dr. Gene D. Cohen, former NIA deputy director and acting NIA director from 1988 to 1993, died November 7 at his home in Kensington, MD, after a long battle with cancer.

    “We will remember Gene Cohen as a talented and dedicated scientist as well as a kind and compassionate friend and mentor to many at NIH and in the aging community,” said NIA Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes.

    Dr. Cohen was a pioneer in the field of geriatric psychiatry who in later years turned his focus from the problems of aging to the creative potential of older people. His U.S. Public Health Service career began as a commissioned officer at the National Institute of Mental Health, where he was the first chief of the Center on Aging.

    Dr. Cohen maintained his commitment to biological, psychological, and social issues in geriatric medicine when he moved to the NIA. Over the years, he was involved in many groundbreaking Alzheimer’s disease initiatives, including a task force that resulted in a 1984 report that helped increase federal support for Alzheimer’s research. In 1994, Dr. Cohen became the first director of the Center on Aging, Health, and Humanities at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

    Dr. Cohen’s interest in creativity in older adults brought a new view to aging, which he interpreted with the development of interactive and intergenerational games. His most recent game, Making Memories Together, helps families and caregivers recognize the untapped imaginative potential of Alzheimer’s patients.

    “Gene Cohen was a renaissance man, merging mental health and aging research outcomes with the nourishment of creativity in older people,” said Dr. Marie Bernard, NIA deputy director. “He was a perpetual presence at meetings of the Gerontological Society of America, distinguished by his bow tie, curly hair, and welcoming smile. He will be missed in the aging research community.”

  • December 30, 2008

    Age (Dordr). 2008 Dec;30(4):187-99. Epub 2008 Apr 18.,Nadon, N.L., Strong, R., Miller, R.A., Nelson, J., Sharp, Z. D., Paralbe, J.M.,Harrison, D.E., The field of biogerontology has made great strides towards understanding the biological processes underlying aging, and the time is ripe to look towards applying this knowledge to the pursuit of aging interventions. Identification of safe, inexpensive, and non-invasive interventions that slow the aging process and promote healthy aging could have a significant impact on quality of life and health care expenditures for the aged. While there is a plethora of supplements and interventions on the market that purport to slow aging, the evidence to validate such claims is generally lacking. Here we describe the development of an aging interventions testing program funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to test candidate interventions in a model system. The development of this program highlights the challenges of long-term intervention studies and provides approaches to cope with the stringent requirements of a multi-site testing program.  

  • September 12, 2011

    Results of a pilot clinical trial show a nasal-spray form of insulin delayed memory loss and preserved cognition in people with cognitive deficits that range from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle led the trial, which was supported in large part by the NIA.

    Previous research suggests that insulin abnormalities contribute to Alzheimer’s pathophysiology. Researchers suspected that restoring normal insulin function in the brain may provide cognitive benefit and slow disease progression. A nasal spray delivered insulin quickly and directly to the brain and does not result in harmful side effects, such as increased peripheral insulin levels.

    The trial included 104 adults with either amnestic MCI or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease dementia. They received 20 IU (international units) of insulin, 40 IU of insulin, or a saline placebo, all administered through a nasal drug delivery device for 4 months. Memory, cognition, and functional ability were measured before and after treatment. A subset of participants also received lumbar punctures to test cerebrospinal fluid and brain scans before and after treatment.

    Treatment with 20 IU of intranasal insulin improved memory and both doses of insulin preserved general cognition and functional ability. These results point out the need for larger trials of insulin nasal-spray therapy to further test its effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

    Reference: Craft S, et al. Intranasal insulin therapy for Alzheimer disease and amnestic mild cognitive impairment: a pilot clinical trial. Archives of Neurology. 2012 Jan;69(1):29-38. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

  • February 9, 2007

    Dr. Leon Thal, one of the world’s leading researchers on Alzheimer’s disease and the head of the National Insitute on Aging’s (NIA) clinical trials consortium, the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), died Saturday, February 3, in a fatal airplane accident near San Diego, his home. Dr. Thal was chairman of the neurosciences department at the University of California San Diego and also director of the NIA-supported Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center there. He recently completed a tour as a member of NIA's National Advisory Council on Aging.

    "The loss of Dr. Thal is a devastating blow to the Alzheimer’s research community," said NIA Director Richard Hodes. "Beyond his exceptional talents as a scientist, he was a wonderful human being of extraordinary wisdom and energy and a deeply caring clinician. His tragic and sudden loss is very difficult for us all to comprehend, and we will miss him in many ways."

    Thal’s entire career was devoted to the study of aging and dementia. Over the past three decades, he achieved a remarkable body of research productivity that includes more than 300 peer-reviewed papers. One of the world’s leading investigators engaged in development of new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, his efforts contributed significantly to the world’s understanding of the cause, prevention and treatment of AD and related disorders. He directed more than $100 million in federally funded research grants, and was a collaborator on many others.

    As director of the ADCS since its inception in 1991, Thal led a consortium of more than 70 research centers around the United States and Canada. Established to test drugs for their effectiveness in slowing down the progression or treating the symptoms of AD, as well as to investigate new methods for conducting dementia research, the ADCS was recently awarded $52 million by NIA to continue its work. More than 4,600 people have participated in these studies.

    In recognition of his career accomplishments and leadership in the field of Alzheimer’s research, he was awarded The Potamkin Prize, one of the nation’s highest honors in dementia research, in 2004. In presenting the award, the American Academy of Neurology recognized Thal’s “outstanding achievements in research of Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases.”

  • October 25, 2010

    In recent months, many of you have expressed increasing concern about the reduced pay line and success rates for aging research at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). I recognize the impact that the situation is having on established researchers as well as on the development of younger scientists for the field. I also understand the implications for research at a time when the population is aging, and when studies addressing the problems of aging are critical to individuals and to society. We at NIA recognize and empathize with the struggle that our constrained funding creates for the research community, and feel that it is vital that we do everything we can to sustain the momentum of investigator-generated research in this successful and vibrant field, as we continue to make a difference in health and well-being in later life.

    NIA staff and I have had numerous contacts with individuals and organizations about this extraordinary problem. Because we cannot meet with everyone personally, I offer this open statement to explain the circumstances surrounding the current pay line and outline our intensive efforts to open up opportunities for aging research.

    In recent years, NIA has faced a collection of circumstances pressuring the Institute’s pay line and success rates. In common with other NIH institutes, we have seen our numbers of new and competing awards fall as biomedical inflation has surpassed limited increases in appropriations. At the same time, NIA has recently seen a rise in the number and average cost of applications submitted. While a welcome sign of increasing interest in aging research, the surge in applications has put additional pressure on our success rate and funding line. Increasing maturity of the field has significantly improved the performance of NIA-assigned applications in review, resulting in a higher proportion of applications with outstanding scores eligible for funding. That maturity, too, has resulted in more applications for clinical trials based on findings from basic and translational research. The interest in conducting many of these trials is high, as can be their expense, also contributing to reduced ability to fund new and competing awards.

    In the last few years, we have worked diligently and creatively to balance a number of funding priorities to make as many highly meritorious awards as possible. Since 2004, NIA has made competing awards at an average 18 percent below recommended costs. In 2007, the Institute limited costs of program project applications and in 2008 established new procedures, including use of an Advisory Panel of experts for clinical trials in geriatrics, to advise on the state of research and on public health need in order to help evaluate proposals for such clinical trials. More details on how and when the advice of this panel is sought are available elsewhere on this site.

    While we do not have our final FY 2011 appropriation, we expect continued austerity, and, consequently, a constrained success rate in 2011. Therefore, additional and important steps, begun this summer, are being implemented now. Among the new measures are: wider use across programs of an Advisory Panel for clinical trials, a new funding policy in FY 2011 that more tightly controls acceptance of requests for applications over $500,000 and limits the total competing dollars awarded to such large grants, the introduction of incentives encouraging investigators to use existing resources more efficiently and extensively, and an emphasis at NIA on partnerships with other organizations to further leverage resources. As these measures are implemented, we have begun to see a difference. For example, NIA recorded an average $30,000 drop in amounts requested on RO1 applications from January 2010 to January 2011 Council rounds. This change is likely the result, at least in part, of the announcement earlier this year of restrictions on large applications.

    Moving forward, the Institute also will be working closely with the National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) to find ways to improve our success rate. At its September 2010 meeting, the Council proposed and passed a motion to conduct a review of the NIA extramural program to evaluate effects of the tight pay line on the field of aging research and to consider ways to improve it. Membership on the review team will include both current and former members of the Council and representation from all four major grant program areas at NIA.

    We are considering additional actions as circumstances require, which will be announced as appropriate on the NIA website or in the NIH Guide. The steps already undertaken and the strategies we devise together will function to improve the funding line and success rate in future years and to bring us back into line with those of other Institutes and Centers at NIH. All of these decisions will be taken in the context of continued support for outstanding research that addresses priorities of scientific opportunity and public health need. I assure you of my commitment to this effort and to the continuing vitality and success of research on aging.

    Richard J. Hodes, M.D.
    Director, National Institute on Aging
    National Institutes of Health


  • May 12, 2011

    For a description of NIA’s mission and priorities please see: NIA's listing of Priorities and Programs

    Budget Data: NIH (including NIA) received a full year continuing resolution budget for FY 2011 at approximately 1% below the FY 2010 level. A detailed mechanism table showing allocations through FY2010 is available at: NIA's FY 2010 Budget Mechanism Table


    Strategy: NIA’s effort to increase the number of competing awards made during this cycle of minimal to negative growth includes limiting the numbers of large applications accepted for review and the numbers awarded (a large application requests direct costs of $500,000 or more in any single year). NIA program divisions have been assigned a limited annual budget for accepting large applications. NIA continues to make competing RPG awards at an average reduction of 18% below the study-section recommended amount.


    Competing awards:

    RPG applications requesting less than $500,000 (direct costs) in all requested years: These applications will be paid through the 11th percentile with the following exceptions. Early Stage Investigator (ESI)-eligible R01 applications will be paid through the 16th percentile. Other new investigator eligible R01 applications will be paid through the 14th percentile.

    RPG applications requesting at least $500,000 (direct costs) in one or more years: These applications will be paid through the 8th percentile with the following exceptions. If an application is ESI-eligible these R01 applications will be paid through the 13th percentile. Other R01 new investigator applications will be paid through the 11th percentile.

    Non-Competing awards:

    NIA will follow NIH policy on noncompeting awards and post further information to this site when it becomes available.

    NIA is also continuing to review balances in noncompeting awards and adjusting or delaying award of the next noncompeting or competing year when appropriate.

    Non-RPG mechanisms:

    NIA is following NIH policy on remaining lines including centers, small business, training, scientific meetings, resource-related, and career development awards.

    NIA will review RPG balances in July and any update to the funding lines will be announced at that time.

    Note on Ranking of RPG applications reviewed at NIA:

    Although the bulk of RPG applications (other than those submitted in response to RFAs and a few PARs) are reviewed at CSR and given percentile ranks based on the panel in which they were reviewed, program project applications and some multi-site cooperative agreement and research grant (R01) applications are reviewed at NIA. Beginning May 2011, no percentile rank appears on the summary statement for these applications. Instead, for funding consideration, they are ranked against other NIA-reviewed RPG applications from the current and recent preceding rounds. This policy for ranking P01 and other non-RPG applications reviewed at NIA became effective for all FY 2011 and succeeding year applications.

  • August 3, 2011

    The NIA announces the reissuance of a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that provides dissertation awards in all areas of research within NIA’s strategic priorities to increase diversity of the scientific research workforce engaged in research on aging and aging-related health conditions. See more information »

  • August 9, 2011

    OppNet is a trans-NIH initiative to expand the agency's funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research (b-BSSR). For more information and a link to funding announcements, please visit the OppNet web site.

  • August 9, 2011

    The NIH Common Fund supports the Science of Behavior Change program to improve our understanding of human behavior change across a broad range of health-related behaviors.