• June 15, 2013

    Brain imaging and spinal-fluid testing can help predict which cognitively normal older people will develop Alzheimer’s disease as many as 7.5 years before symptoms appear, according to a new study supported in part by the NIA. The findings confirm the power of biomarkers as predictors of disease risk in the earliest, symptom-free stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These biomarkers may prove to be valuable tools in testing promising treatments in future studies.

    While not typically used in clinical practice, investigators worldwide are studying, refining, and standardizing biomarkers aimed at identifying who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia in older adults. The biomarkers in this study, published May 7 in Neurology, included positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brain to detect deposits of the telltale protein beta-amyloid, as well as levels of beta-amyloid and another protein, tau, found in cerebrospinal fluid.

    The research team, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, tracked the cognition of 201 dementia-free volunteers, ages 45 to 88, at the school’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. The researchers found that abnormal levels of biomarkers identified in PET scans and lumbar punctures could predict who would develop cognitive impairment among the volunteers who were followed for an average of 3.7 years, but in some cases as long as 7.5 years.

    Some 28 volunteers (14 percent) of the group developed memory loss and other signs of cognitive impairment. Abnormal levels of all biomarkers predicted the development of Alzheimer’s dementia equally well, the study found. Older participants, men, and African Americans who developed dementia did so faster than those who were younger, female, and white, the researchers report. In a few cases, participants with abnormal biomarker levels remained cognitively normal, perhaps because of “cognitive reserve,” the ability of some brains to cope with or stave off decline.

    Reference: Roe CM, et al. Amyloid imaging and CSF biomarkers in predicting cognitive impairment up to 7.5 years later. Neurology 2013;80(19):1784-91.

  • June 19, 2013

    Subject: Dr. Owen Wolkowitz July 11 at the GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) summer seminar

    When: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

    Where: Lipsett Amphitheater, Building 10, NIH

    Title: "Getting Old Before Our Time: Psychiatric Illness and Accelerated Cell Aging"

    The Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) cordially invites you to its summer seminar, featuring Dr. Owen Wolkowitz. Dr. Wolkowitz is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and Director of the Psychopharmacology Assessment Clinic. His teaching, clinical work and research are in the areas of stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. His interests include the effects of stress and stress hormones on the brain and behavior, as well as the identification of mechanisms underlying depression, which may lead to the discovery of new treatments. Dr. Wolkowitz and colleagues have developed a detailed model of mechanistic pathways leading from stress to psychiatric illness, representing effects of steroid and neurosteroid hormones, oxidative stress, neurotrophic factors, inflammatory responses, changes in telomeres and telomerase and genetic polymorphisms. They are now conducting additional studies to test this model and to explore the cumulative neuronal damage in the hippocampus.

    The GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) was formed to enhance opportunities for discussion of the intersection between the biology of aging and the biology of disease and conditions that are of interest across ICs. It is focused on basic biology, but with a longer view towards translation. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the GSIG web site (

    The seminar will be videocast at and archived in the GSIG web site.

    Sign Language Interpreters will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Dr. Jovier Evans at or at 301/443-1369 or Dr. Ron Kohanski at or at 301.496.6402.

  • June 19, 2013

    A new blog post describes an NIA-funded study on the economic costs of caring for people with dementia, and research opportunities on this topic. The NIA program officer for the grant writes about why the new study drew so much attention. He details the dataset used, a resource that is also available to other scientists for secondary analyses. He also points to an open funding opportunity on estimating dementia care costs that might be of interest to researchers seeking funding.

    Read the full blog post: Estimating economic costs of dementia

  • June 18, 2013

    The National Institutes of Health has awarded $12.7 million to match nine academic research groups with a selection of pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore new treatments for patients. The treatments, in eight disease areas, include Alzheimer's disease. The project, part of the collaborative pilot initiative called Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules, will explore whether an investigational drug that blocks Fyn kinase, a type of protein, safely stops Alzheimer’s disease progression in humans.

  • June 17, 2013

    The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) June 13 announced the formation with NIA of the “Falls Injuries Prevention Partnership,” to fund and conduct a major intervention study aimed at preventing injuries from falls in older adults. PCORI plans to commit up to $30 million to this effort; NIA will work with PCORI stakeholders in design and management of the clinical trial.

    A Request for Information (RFI), posted on the NIA website, seeks initial input from those interested in preventing injurious falls in older people, including organizations, agencies, services providers, health care professionals, caregivers, and older individuals. NIA and PCORI will develop a Funding Opportunity Announcement to be issued this summer. More information on the partnership is available on the PCORI web site.

  • June 13, 2013

    The June 2013 issue of Spotlight on Aging Research: News and Notes from the National Institute on Aging at NIH is now available!

    In the latest issue of this e-newsletter:

    • Get funding news from NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes, read research highlights, and see a list of newly funded grants
    • Check out NIA’s new blog for the research community
    • Read about exciting arts and aging research initiatives
    • Catch up on recent Alzheimer’s activities under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act
    • Learn about global population-aging research in an in-depth interview with Dr. Richard Suzman
    • Find out about an upcoming geroscience conference on healthspan and chronic disease
    • Browse more NIA happenings and news!

    Want to get future issues of Spotlight on Aging Research and other NIA news by e-mail or Twitter? Choose your interests and sign up today!

  • June 12, 2013

    A new blog post reports on a recent NIA scientific meeting on Alzheimer's disease. More than 60 leaders from academia, government, foundations, and industry met in Bethesda to discuss partnerships and how they could lead to drugs for Alzheimer's treatment. Dr. Suzana Petanceska, an NIA Program Director, describes the new opportunities and connections sparked by the meeting: "We hope that these discussions will lead to new collaborations and ultimately new partnerships to accelerate Alzheimer's disease therapy development."

    Read the full blog post: Enabling partnerships for Alzheimer's disease drug development - meeting report

  • June 7, 2013

    A new blog post describes what it's like to be a scientific peer reviewer for the National Institute on Aging. Every year, thousands of researchers contribute their time and expertise to the review of applications for NIH grants. Serving as a reviewer is a great way to learn more about grantsmanship and how the review process works.
    Recently, the rules changed, and the NIH is no longer able to offer coffee and other light refreshments at these review meetings. An NIA Scientific Review Officer explains why.

    Read the full blog post: No coffee for you!

  • June 7, 2013

    Date: August 12-13, 2013 (Monday & Tuesday)
    Location: Natcher Conference Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD

    Workshop Description

    Age-related hearing loss is highly prevalent among older adults. The degree and types of hearing loss among older adults are very variable. Peripheral hearing loss, largely associated with degeneration of hair cells and/or other structural damages in the cochlea, has been considered a major contributor to age-related hearing loss. The impact of the central auditory pathway, from the cochlear nucleus to high order auditory cortical areas, on age-related changes in hearing is much less understood. In particular, auditory plasticity of the central auditory pathway, which has been a rich area for research in developmental and adult auditory function, has been largely lacking from the aging perspective. The deficiency of such knowledge may underlie the difficulty in developing and perfecting personalized auditory remediation or rehabilitation strategies for older adults with age-related hearing deficits.
    The goal of this workshop is to bring experts together in the fields of brain aging, age-related hearing loss, and auditory plasticity to identify common ground and suitable strategies to enhance research on auditory plasticity and aging, as well as to facilitate the integration of basic research on age-related deficits in the auditory pathway with clinical research on age-related hearing loss.

    Online Registration

    The workshop is open to the public. Registration for the workshop is free. Due to space limitations, registration will be on a first-come first reserve basis. To register for the workshop, please fill out the online registration form. Online registration will be closed after July 31, 2013. Additional information about the workshop and the associated logistics will be emailed; but confirmed registrants should make their own travel arrangements.

    Workshop Organizers

    Gregg Recanzone, University of California at Davis
    Wen G. Chen, National Institute on Aging
    Christopher Platt, National Institute for Deafness & Other Communication Disorders
    Molly V. Wagster, National Institute on Aging

    Workshop Program (tentative)

    August 12, 2013 (Monday)
    12:30-1:00 p.m. Registration
    1:00-1:05 p.m. Welcome Remarks
    Molly Wagster, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MD
    1:05-1:10 p.m. Workshop Charge
    Gregg Recanzone, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA
    1:10-1:15 p.m. Workshop Logistics
    Wen Chen, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MD
    1:15-2:00 p.m. Keynote Seminar
    Carol Barnes, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
    2:00-6:00 p.m. SESSION ONE: Bottom-up Auditory Processing and Plasticity in Aging Model Organisms
    Moderator: Judy Dubno, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
    2:00-2:10 p.m. Overview
    Judy Dubno, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
    2:10-2:50 p.m. Donald M. Caspary, Southern Illinois University, Springfield, IL
    2:50-3:30 p.m. Joseph Walton, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
    3:30-3:45 p.m. Break
    3:45-4:25 p.m. Gregg Recanzone, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA
    4:25-5:05 p.m. Christoph Schreiner, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
    5:05-6:00 p.m. Group Discussion
    6:00 p.m. Adjourn
    August 13, 2013 (Tuesday)
    8:30-12:30 a.m. SESSION TWO: Complex Auditory Processing and Plasticity in Aging
    Moderator: Larry Humes, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
    8:30-8:40 a.m. Overview
    Larry Humes, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
    8:40-9:20 a.m. Michael Kilgard, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX
    9:20-10:00 a.m. Josef Rauschecker, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
    10:00-10:15 a.m. Break
    10:15-10:55 a.m. Nina Kraus, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
    10:55-11:35 a.m. Patrick Wong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    11:35 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Group Discussion
    12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch
    1:30-2:30 p.m. Closed Session
    Co-Chairs: Wen Chen, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MD
    Christopher Platt, National Institute for Deafness & Other Communication Disorders, Rockville, MD
    2:30 p.m. Workshop Adjourn

    Contact Information

    Wen G. Chen, Ph.D.
    Division of Neuroscience
    National Institute on Aging
    National Institutes of Health

  • June 3, 2013

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is pleased to announce an exciting new career opportunity within the Office of the Director. This position will serve as the Director for the Office of Special Populations. The NIA is responsible for conducting research activities dedicated to understanding the nature of aging, supporting the health and well-being of older adults, and extending healthy, active years of life for more people. As the Director, Office of Special Populations, you will develop initiatives to enhance the research and training efforts targeting underrepresented minorities and women and provide advice and guidance to senior staff on matters on health research related to special populations. To apply to this job opportunity or for more information about this position, eligibility criteria, and application process, please visit the Federal government’s official job website, USAJobs at The announcement numbers are: NIH-NIA-DE-13-887382 (opened to all candidates) and NIH-NIA-MP-13-887083 (opened to Status/Government candidates). The opening date of the official announcement is Tuesday, June 4, 2013 and will close on Thursday, June 13, 2013.

    For questions about this position, please contact Dr. Marie Bernard at 301-496-0216 or . For questions about the application process, please contact Jessica Schwartz at 301-402-7719 or