• June 13, 2012

    NIH published a notice and a funding opportunity for administrative supplements to ongoing awards. The announcement now allows Administrative Supplement requests to be submitted electronically when the parent award’s activity code has transitioned to electronic submission and provides detailed instruction on the two kinds of electronic submission possible. Administrative Supplements to ongoing awards whose activity code has not yet transitioned to electronic submission (largely program projects and center awards) must continue to submit on paper using the PHS 398 form. And, though electronic submission is possible for other awards, all awards may still submit via paper using the PHS 398 form. Administrative Supplements to promote diversity in health-related research and to support re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research careers have been published now.

    For research awards (e.g., R01, P01, U01, U19, R03, R15, R21, R33, R34, R37) the National Institute on Aging (NIA) continues to accept Administrative Supplement applications to cover expenses pertaining to emergencies, or unpredictable cost changes, or to exploit an unexpected opportunity that fits within the funded scope of the work, or to take advantage of a new technology, or to cover unanticipated institutional increases in salaries. Administrative Supplements to Center awards (P30, P50) are also available for similar purposes. Only under exceptional circumstances are Administrative Supplements available for other kinds of award (training, fellowships, career development, scientific-meetings, and education- and resource-related activities). However, NIA stresses that funding for Administrative Supplements is very limited and strongly encourages investigators to contact their Program Officer prior to submitting the Administrative Supplement to check on available funds for the award. Investigators seeking support for Administrative Supplements to promote diversity in health-related research or to promote re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research careers should contact Dr. Chyren Hunter, the NIA Training Officer.

  • March 2, 2012

    On November 29–30, 2011, BSR convened a workshop to explore harmonization strategies for behavioral, social science, and genetic research. The workshop brought together harmonization experts, principal investigators on harmonization projects, and staff from BSR, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development. Workshop participants reviewed harmonization basics, existing harmonization efforts and issues, enabling tools and technologies, and the immediate needs of BSR, with a particular focus on phenotype harmonization and the informatics associated with cataloguing studies and data. Discussions from the workshop were intended to guide BSR as it defines the scope and priorities for building a unified harmonization strategy for promoting research and genetic studies within its portfolio.

    The workshop report is now available.

  • February 22, 2012

    Public input sought on detailed strategies for research, outreach, caregiver support

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released today an ambitious draft National Plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  The draft National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease ( offers specific action steps to accelerate research on treatment and prevention, as well as proposals for improving care, services, and support for patients, families, and caregivers. We look forward to receiving comments from the public on this proposed plan.

    As work on the draft plan continues, the Obama Administration announced that it is taking immediate action, making an additional $50 million available for cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research in fiscal year 2012. In addition, the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget boosts funding for Alzheimer’s research by $80 million.  The Administration’s announcement also includes an additional $26 million in caregiver support, provider education, public awareness and improvements in data infrastructure in 2012 and 2013.

    HHS is seeking comments on the draft National Plan to fully engage the Alzheimer’s disease community, the public, states, local governments, community based service organizations, the private sector and others in its development.  Public comment will be accepted through March 30, 2012 and should be e-mailed to

    Creating and maintaining an integrated national plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease is part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011.

    The draft plan has five goals:

    1. Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer’s Disease by 2025.
    2. Optimize Care Quality and Efficiency.
    3. Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Families
    4. Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement.
    5. Track Progress and Drive Improvement.

    These five goals, the supporting strategies and action steps proposed in the plan reflects input from the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services ( and almost 100 public comments received on an initial framework for the draft.

    The Advisory Council was also created as part of the NAPA to help create and maintain a National Plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease. It is a 27-member body made up of federal and state officials, along with representatives from private sector organizations involved in Alzheimer’s, including research, care, advocacy, and caregivers.

    As part of the public comment process, the draft National Plan will be reviewed and discussed at the next Advisory Council meeting March 14. For more information contact Helen Lamont at

  • January 18, 2012

    The neuropathology guidelines used since 1997 to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at autopsy have been updated to reflect a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This will help pathologists characterize Alzheimer’s-related brain changes at death in people diagnosed with dementia and those who have not yet shown clinical symptoms. Further, the new guidelines recognize the importance of reporting pathology findings for all diseases that contribute to dementia—not just Alzheimer’s-related changes—and to correlate those findings with clinical symptoms. The effort was led by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association.

    Under the previous guidelines, a postmortem assessment was typically conducted in the brains of people diagnosed with clinical symptoms of dementia, and then only to determine whether Alzheimer’s pathology was an underlying cause of the dementia. The new criteria do not require a dementia diagnosis while the person was living, as studies suggest that Alzheimer’s develops years before it becomes clinically evident and research has revealed that the brains of cognitively normal people may have Alzheimer’s-related brain changes.

    The revised pathology criteria provide a framework for researchers and clinicians to:

    • Report in more specific detail the amount and location of Alzheimer’s-related pathology, such as abnormal brain proteins and lesions, even in people who appear free of dementia.
    • Identify other pathologies that may co-exist or be confused with Alzheimer’s disease and may contribute to cognitive decline.
    • In research settings, incorporate new tools—such as biomarkers and imaging—that may correlate with pathological changes in the brain.
    • Relate the pathology to the full continuum of Alzheimer’s disease, from the earliest “preclinical” stages, to mild cognitive impairment, to dementia due to Alzheimer’s pathology, as described in the recently updated Alzheimer’s diagnostic guidelines.


    Hyman BT, et al. National Institute on Aging–Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2012 Jan;8(1):1-13.

    Montine TJ, et al. National Institute on Aging–Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease: a practical approach. Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Jan; 123(1):1-11. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

  • February 13, 2012

    NIA has posted its Funding Line Policy for 2012.

  • January 1, 2012

    Patrick ShirdonIn January 2012, the NIA welcomed Patrick Shirdon as director for management. Mr. Shirdon will oversee business management functions involving human resources, budget, ethics, travel, procurement, space and facilities, and general administration. He takes over from Lynn Hellinger, who retired at the end of December.

    Mr. Shirdon comes to NIA from the National Institute of Mental Health, where he was executive officer. He is quite familiar, however, with the NIA and aging research—in 2004-2005, he served as budget officer at the Institute. Mr. Shirdon’s background in economics and business, experience well-suited to the fiscal and management challenges that NIA and all of NIH face in the near term. His aim in returning to NIA is to continue to improve NIA’s successful programs of research on health and aging, managing resources in efficient and innovative ways to support NIA’s scientific mission as the population ages.

    “I have been very interested in the science at the various institutes I have been part of. I think now is a particularly good time to be at the aging institute, as interest and importance in what we do is growing with the aging of the population,” Mr. Shirdon says. “The challenge is—how do we get the maximum return on our investment, how do we prioritize so that we can accomplish our mission to help improve quality of life and diminish disease with aging? I am excited to be at NIA.”

    Mr. Shirdon began his NIH career in the Office of Financial Management in 1992 and spent most of his career working in the NIH budget community. After his stint at NIA, he became deputy executive officer at NIMH in 2005 and in 2008 was promoted to lead that institute administratively.

    Mr. Shirdon earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a master’s degree in business management from Johns Hopkins University.

  • December 31, 2011

    Lynn C. HellingerLynn C. Hellinger, NIA’s director of management retired on December 31, 2011, after a decades-long career at NIH and as a federal manager. Ms. Hellinger was at the administrative helm of NIA since 2005, providing leadership on, workforce and strategic management, , budget, information technology, general administration , ethics, and all aspects of NIA’s overall operations.

    “We will greatly miss Lynn,” said NIA Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes. “She is an accomplished and creative leader, with a deep understanding of how large organizations can and should function. She managed the enterprise both in detail and strategically. At NIH, Lynn was guided by her strong belief that excellence in administration supports the best science.”

    Ms. Hellinger leaves NIH after an extraordinary 26-year career, where she was known for navigating complex administrative challenges while maintaining excellent interpersonal relationships. She came to the campus in 1982 as a personnel staffing specialist in the Office of the Director. In 1988, she served as the deputy director of human resources and chief of operations for NIH’s Clinical Center, a 500-bed research hospital with 17 medical and service departments. Later, at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), after serving as director of NIAID’s human resources, she became associate director for management and operations. Ms. Hellinger led the effort post-September 11, 2001, to create an infrastructure of staff and buildings for biodefense research in a compressed time frame and at a height of national concerns about terror.

    Ms. Hellinger was also a leader in numerous NIH senior scientific and administrative executive management activities. She was co-chair of the Commercial Activities steering committee and the Administrative Management Systems steering committee. She also served as a key advisor to the NIH Deputy Director of Management through her membership on the Strategic Administrative Management Policy Committee; she also regularly chaired executive leadership searches for key positions at the NIH.

    Ms. Hellinger is particularly well-known and admired in the administrative community for her activities in building excellence in public service. She was and will remain a tireless mentor of young professionals in public administration and management. She served as the federal representative to the International Public Management Association's (IPMA) executive council and has served as president of the Montgomery County chapter and eastern region of the association.

    To cap these achievements, Ms. Hellinger in 2010 received the SES Presidential Meritorious Rank Award. One of the highest awards in public service, it recognizes senior career employees who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service. Ms. Hellinger was also the recipient of several NIH Director’s Award, for mentoring and other achievements. She also received several prestigious awards through the IPMA, including the Frank H. Densler Award and the Charles H. Cushman Award.

  • December 31, 2011

    J. Taylor HardenDr. J Taylor Harden, who led efforts at NIA and in the research community nationwide to bring diversity to research and to the ranks of scientists conducting research on aging, retired from NIA on December 31. Since 1997, Dr. Harden was the Chief of the Office of Special Populations and the Assistant to the Director for Special Populations. In this capacity, she was responsible for activities supporting women, racially and ethnically diverse populations and disabled scientists; providing the NIA director and senior staff with advice and guidance on enhancing the participation of special populations in aging research initiatives; and providing guidance on NIA goals for research and training programs for special populations.

    “Taylor is known for her commitment to the development and support of researchers new to the field of aging research,” says Dr. Richard J. Hodes, NIA Director. “She has brought a diverse group of talented researchers into science through a dedication to mentoring and by understanding and providing the types of support that were needed.”

    As one strategy for recruiting and mentoring, Dr. Harden facilitated the NIA Grants Technical Assistance Workshop in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. More than 600 participants attended the workshop between 1997 and 2011.

    The NIA Summer Institute on Aging Research, which marked its 25th anniversary in 2011, was a particularly special endeavor for Dr. Harden. Each year, she brought together new and early career scientists in aging research for a 7-day educational training curriculum that featured senior scientists from NIA staff and grantees. More than 1,000 investigators are graduates of the Summer Institute and many have gone on to distinguished careers in the field of aging research.

    Before coming to NIA, Dr. Harden held positions at the National Institute for Nursing Research and at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Nursing. She is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Nursing. In retirement she has transitioned to service as chief administrator of the John A. Hartford Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity initiative administered through the American Academy of Nursing.

  • May 14, 2012

    'Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit 2012; Path to Treatment and Prevention. May 14-15, 2012, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.'The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention was held May 14-15, 2012.

    Webcast of the Summit is available here:


    The Summit was hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Aging at NIH, with private support through the Foundation for NIH.

    Natcher Auditorium, Building 45
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD, Campus
    NIH Map and Visitor Information

    Date & Time:
    Monday, May 14, 2012: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
    Tuesday, May 15, 2012: 8 a.m. - 1:40 p.m.

    Additional Public Comment through May 18:  COMMENT PERIOD IS CLOSED
    You may send your comments about the “Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention” to until Midnight (Eastern Time), Friday May 18, 2012. Comments received by that date will be added to the final Summit transcript, which will be sent to the Secretary of HHS for her consideration along with the recommendations from the Summit.

    Check back for further details to be posted here and on the HHS/Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation websites as they become available.

    Questions? E-mail

  • February 1, 2012

    Deposits of amyloid protein in the brain are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, for the first time, greater levels of cognitive activity—reading, writing, and playing games—have been associated with lower amyloid levels in the brains of cognitively healthy older people, according to NIA-supported research published online January 23 in the Archives of Neurology.

    Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley imaged the brains of 65 cognitively normal volunteers aged 60 and older using positron emission tomography (PET) and Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB), a tracer that binds to amyloid in the brain. The participants provided estimates of the frequency of their cognitive activities over their lifetimes and underwent neuropsychological testing of their memory and other cognitive functions. The researchers then compared the brain scans of these healthy older participants to brain scans of 10 volunteers with Alzheimer’s disease and to 11 cognitively healthy volunteers in their 20s.

    The researchers found a significant association between higher levels of mental stimulation over a lifetime and lower levels of amyloid in the brains of the healthy older volunteers. The relationship remained significant even when accounting for age, gender, and years of education. Other lifetime activities examined, such as current levels of cognitive activity, did not show an association with amyloid deposits. The results may suggest frequent engagement in cognitive activity in early and mid-life might help to delay or prevent the abnormal levels of amyloid in the brain, which accompany Alzheimer’s disease in later life. The NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association funded the study.


    Landau, S.M., et al. Association of lifetime cognitive engagement and low B-amyloid deposition. Archives of Neurology. Published online Jan. 23, 2012.