Announcements

  • August 10, 2015

    Much of the research on human aging has been conducted in animal models and in older people. The Dunedin Study in New Zealand, funded in part by NIA, has taken a different approach, studying a group of 1,037 people born in 1972-73 from birth to age 38. Study investigators recently reported that they have identified, differences in the “biological age” of participants, indicating that young adults are aging at different rates.

    The researchers developed and validated two methods to measure aging in young adults. One method applied an algorithm of multiple biological measures, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. .  Using this method, some 38-year-olds appeared biologically older than their peers. A second method assessed the deterioration of several organ systems (heart, lung, kidney, liver, and immune function) over 12 years. They found that some study members aged at a faster rate than others.

    Study members with advanced biological age had poorer physical function and cognitive performance than those with younger biological age. Further, participants with older biological age considered themselves to have poorer health than biologically younger peers. When researchers showed a group of university students photos of study participants of the same chronological age and asked them to rate their age, the students scored the appearance of the biologically older participants as older than that of the biologically younger ones.

    The researchers suggest that future studies of aging continue to follow individuals over the life course to better understand rates of aging, starting from a young age, as well as incorporate repeated biological measures to monitor and predict health states. They also note that therapies to prevent age-related diseases could possibly be implemented earlier in the life course in biologically older people.

    Reference: Belsky, D.W., et al., Quantification of biological aging in young adults, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 6, 2015. Published online ahead of print.

  • July 13, 2015

    In a blog post on the White House Conference on Aging, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes wrote:

    “The White House Conference on Aging happening today at the White House occurs once per decade. But at the National Institutes of Health, particularly at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), we work on research every day related 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.”

    Read the rest of the post and find out more about the WHCOA.

  • Because the overall goal of RFA-AG-16-009 “Collaborative Networks to Advance Delirium Research (R24)” is to foster collaborative effort between delirium researchers to form an infrastructure greater than the sum of its parts, NIA program staff held a pre-application webinar/teleconference on August 12, 2015 from 1:00-2:30p.m. EDT as described below.

    Goals of Webinar/Teleconference

    The purpose of this teleconference was to provide technical assistance to prospective applicants, including an overview of the research program and a discussion of the R24 (Infrastructure/Resource-Related Research Project) grant mechanism used. The teleconference also provided information on preparing an application, highlight the peer review process, and address participant questions.

    Joining and participating in the webinar and teleconference was optional. Participants could remain anonymous on the teleconference and webinar if they chose.

    Webinar Follow-Up

    The RFA-AG-16-009 Pre-Application webinar was hosted by Drs.Molly Wagster (Division of Neuroscience), Drs. Basil Eldadah and Susan Zieman (Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology) and Dr. Jeannette Johnson (Scientific Review Branch). An overview of the funding opportunity was described by a brief presentation for which the slides are posted here:

    RFA-AG-16-009 Pre-Application Webinar Slides (PPT, 119K)

    Dr. Jeannette Johnson then gave a description of the general and specific review process for submitted application, followed by a question and answer session regarding the funding opportunity. The Pre-Application Webinar was recorded for only internal purposes so that NIA staff could review and subsequently post a consolidated version of questions and answers regarding RFA-AG-16-009 which are posted below.

    RFA-AG-16-009 Pre-Applications Frequently Asked Questions

    Please send any additional questions regarding RFA-AG-16-009 to: NIAdeliriumnetwork@mail.nih.gov and we will answer you and add them to this site at our earliest convenience. Thank you.

    Additional Information regarding this Webinar/Teleconference will be posted on this site as prompted by additional Notice(s) in the NIH Guide Publishing System in the months following publication of RFA-AG-16-009.

    Applicants may also discuss their applications with the NIA Scientific/Research Contact (please contact via email NIAdeliriumnetwork@mail.nih.gov) or Financial/Grants Management Contact listed in the FOA. The complete text of the FOA is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AG-16-009.html.

    APPLICATION QUESTIONS

    1. What is an R24 mechanism and how is it different from other mechanisms?
    2. What are some different examples of models for the structure of an R24?
    3. Are any other NIH Institutes likely to join this RFA?
    4. Can foreign investigators be included? 
    5. What is the role of NIA officials in this type of mechanism? How should they be included?
    6. Is priority given to applications that have multi-center involvement vs. single center?
    7. Given that most delirium experts will probably be involved in one or more of these applications, how does NIA put together a qualified review panel?
    8. Are letters of support required for co-investigators who will have subcontracts?
    9. Is ESI status considered and given preference?
    10. If my application is not funded in response to this RFA, can I resubmit the application?
    11. Is a data sharing plan required, even though the budget will be less than $500,000 in directs per year.

    SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS

    1. What is meant in the RFA by ‘encourage collaboration’?
    2. What is the ideal end result of this funding opportunity?
    3. Should a sustainability plan be built into the grant application, or can it be developed in later years?
    4. Should an evaluation plan be built into the grant as well?
    5. As an infrastructure grant, we will not have human subjects involved at the beginning of the project, but that aspect may come later with pilot studies. How should human subject research be addressed in the grant?

    BUDGET QUESTIONS

    1. If we are proposing an application with multiple sites, how should the budget be structured?
    2. Can we leverage additional funds for our proposed network beyond the budget limit in the RFA?
    3. We have negotiated a lower Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs rate with our institution. Can we use this rate in our application?
    4. Will this grant be subject to the usual 18% NIA budget cut?

    APPLICATION QUESTIONS

    1. What is an R24 mechanism and how is it different from other mechanisms?
      The R24 mechanism provides funding primarily for research-related resource building rather than for a specific empirical study.  This mechanism is often used to create a collaborative infrastructure to address a particular research problem more efficiently or feasibly.  An R24 may also be a stepping stone to other larger scale submissions such as a Program Project (P01) grant.

    2. What are some different examples of models for the structure of an R24?
      You may get more information about previously funded R24 grants from NIA on NIH RePORTER.

    3. Are any other NIH Institutes likely to join this RFA?
      Currently NIA is the sole sponsor of this RFA.

    4. Can foreign investigators be included? 
      Yes. Non-U.S. investigators may be included as collaborators or consultants. However, the application must originate from a U.S. institution.

    5. What is the role of NIA officials in this type of mechanism? How should they be included?
      This is an R mechanism, specifically an R24. Unlike cooperative agreements, or U mechanisms, NIA staff/officials will not have any direct involvement in the planning or leadership of an award funded through this mechanism. However, NIA program staff will oversee the award in the usual manner for R-type mechanisms.

    6. Is priority given to applications that have multi-center involvement vs. single center?
      The decision to include multiple centers vs. a single center is up to the Investigator and his/her judgment of what constitutes an appropriate design.  Also, the review panel will judge whether the plan is scientifically meritorious.  In short, multi-center involvement is not a requirement for this RFA.   However, this is a unique opportunity for multidisciplinary, multi-investigator collaboration and applications with this approach may be more competitive.

    7. Given that most delirium experts will probably be involved in one or more of these applications, how does NIA put together a qualified review panel?
      There likely will be some delirium experts who will not be part of any of the submitted applications. The NIA Scientific Review Branch staff will seek recommendations from the Program Officers and from leaders in the field.  They also will use the NIH database of funded investigators to seek appropriate expertise.

    8. Are letters of support required for co-investigators who will have subcontracts?
      Yes. Subcontractors will need to submit both a letter of support and their NIH biosketches.

    9. Is ESI status considered and given preference?
      NIH gives preference for new investigators (NI) and early stage investigators (ESI) only for R01 applications. The mechanism being used for this RFA is an R24, so by definition, ESI/NI status will not be a consideration.  Furthermore, funding decisions for applications in response to RFAs typically are not considered in the context of ESI/NI status, regardless of the mechanism used.

    10. If my application is not funded in response to this RFA, can I resubmit the application?
      It is our expectation to fund one application out of this RFA, and we do not expect to have any resubmission opportunities through this RFA.

    11. Is a data sharing plan required, even though the budget will be less than $500,000 in directs per year.
      Yes. As indicated in the RFA, a data sharing plan is required for applications responding to this announcement.

    SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS

    1. What is meant in the RFA by ‘encourage collaboration’?
      The goal of this RFA is to stimulate investigators in various realms of delirium research to communicate, network, and collaborate. The NIA seeks creative proposals that bring together the skills, expertise, and resources of individuals from a variety of related backgrounds around a common goal of advancing delirium research.

    2. What is the ideal end result of this funding opportunity?
      The NIA envisions a delirium research network that integrates novel and emerging hypotheses and techniques, serves as a platform to train investigators interested in delirium and an infrastructure to conduct pilot studies, and other innovative activities during the 5-year funding period to advance understanding and management of delirium. Additionally, it is expected that the infrastructure developed through this RFA will continue beyond the award period to support further research that will be funded through other mechanisms. The resultant delirium-focused infrastructure supported by this award will be a research resource that facilitates investigative inquiry, training and collaboration of investigators, and development of important research skills, techniques, and tools under a collaborative network that is more productive and efficient collectively than its individual elements separately.

    3. Should a sustainability plan be built into the grant application, or can it be developed in later years?
      A brief description of a plan for sustainability of the research infrastructure after the grant period has ended would increase the competitiveness of the application. A detailed description of how that plan will be carried out is not needed in the application.

    4. Should an evaluation plan be built into the grant as well?
      A brief description of the evaluation plan would strengthen the grant application considerably.

    5. As an infrastructure grant, we will not have human subjects involved at the beginning of the project, but that aspect may come later with pilot studies. How should human subject research be addressed in the grant?
      NIH calls this situation a delayed onset award, and handling this situation is described in detail in  NOT-OD-15-129.

    BUDGET QUESTIONS

    1. If we are proposing an application with multiple sites, how should the budget be structured?
      For multi-site projects, we expect that applications will be submitted by a single institution with subcontracts to collaborating institutions.

    2. Can we leverage additional funds for our proposed network beyond the budget limit in the RFA?
      You are welcome to leverage additional funds from other sources, but the budget in your application should include only funds requested from NIA. Also, please provide documentation of additional funds or other resources in your application by including a letter of support from the source(s).

    3. We have negotiated a lower Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs rate with our institution. Can we use this rate in our application?
      Yes, as long as you provide official documentation from your institution of this lower rate in the application.

    4. Will this grant be subject to the usual 18% NIA budget cut?
      This typically applies to investigator-initiated research applications and not to applications in response to an RFA.  We do not expect to apply a standard programmatic cut to the award through this RFA. We have set aside $750,000 in annual total costs to fund one award.
  • May 15, 2015

    Cognitively normal older adults who report memory problems and have a genetic risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease also have biological evidence of brain changes associated with the disease, a new NIA-funded study reports. The findings tentatively identify a group at risk for developing Alzheimer’s who might benefit from intervention many years before symptoms appear. The study was published online May 7, 2015, in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

    Researchers led by Dr. Andrew J. Saykin of Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, used data from the NIA-supported Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), to analyze Alzheimer’s biomarker measurements and neuroimaging results from 594 older adults. The volunteers were classified into three groups: cognitively normal, significant memory concerns (SMC), and early mild cognitive impairment. The researchers were especially interested in a sample of 90 adults with SMC, whose memory concerns were reported by themselves but not by family members or friends.

    People with SMC who carry the well-known APOE ɛ4 genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s had more biomarker evidence of changes linked to the disease than SMC participants without APOE ɛ4, the researchers found. This biomarker evidence consisted of greater deposits of the beta amyloid protein in the brain, found using amyloid PET imaging, and lower levels of beta-amyloid 1-42 and higher levels of tau, another protein associated with Alzheimer’s, found in cerebrospinal fluid. However, other signs of possible Alzheimer’s disease—lowered brain glucose activity and medial temporal lobe shrinkage—were not associated with APOE carrier status.

    The findings help confirm the influence of APOE ε4 carrier status on Alzheimer’s biomarkers years before symptoms may appear and the importance of beta amyloid accumulation as one of the earliest measurable changes of the disease process.

    Reference: Saykin A.J., et al., APOE effects on Alzheimer’s biomarkers in older adults with significant memory concerns. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. May 7, 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2015.03.003.

  • May 15, 2015

    Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and death despite the implementation of national policies, behavioral programs, and pharmacological treatments that have helped decrease smoking rates in the US. One promising line of research in smoking cessation relies on findings from the field of behavioral economics, which applies what we know about how people make health-related decisions to the design of health-behavior change interventions.

    Read more at http://commonfund.nih.gov/highlights#SOBC_Cessation

  • April 24, 2015

    The Spring 2015 issue of Connections, the e-newsletter from NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center, is now available!

    In the latest issue:

    • Get a recap of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2015, which is setting the direction for future treatment and prevention research.
    • Find out what NIH’s “bypass” budget means for Alzheimer’s disease research.
    • Learn about recent G-7 and WHO gatherings to address global dementia research.
    • Check out new resources and the latest findings from NIA-funded research
    • Browse a list of clinical trials now recruiting.

    Want to get future issues of Connections and other Alzheimer’s and aging research news by e-mail? Sign up today! And follow us on Twitter @Alzheimers_NIH.

  • April 21, 2015

    The Bethune-Cookman University Petrock College of Health Sciences, Daytona Beach, FL hosted their first Caregivers Symposium. Dr. Vanessa Jones Briscoe, Department Chair for Aging Studies, acknowledges that with the “graying” of America, the demand for more caregivers is escalating. Caregivers assist those who are incapacitated and in need of help. Typically, the person receiving the care has multiple chronic illnesses and requires ongoing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). The University hopes that this annual symposium will help people understand that caregivers’ issues critically impact our communities.

    see caption
    Attorney Kirk T. Bauer, Mr. Almon Gunter, Vanessa Jones Briscoe, Ph.D., ARNP and Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., M.P.H.

    The program featured speakers who shared their expert knowledge with registered attendees:

    • Attorney Kirk T. Bauer, owner Bauer and Associates Attorneys at Law addressed financial and legal matters that caregivers are to consider.
    • And Mr. Almon Gunter, CEO and President of Almon Gunter Motivates, Inc. Mr. Gunter (acclaimed motivational speaker and author) got the audience up and moving! He helped attendees gain a better understanding of how physical activity (crucial for mental and physical well-being), helps us cope with many caregiving responsibilities.
    • The keynote speaker, Dr. Carl V. Hill, Director, Office of Special Populations at the NIA, informed the audience of important details related to aging, collective responses, social support, caregiving and health disparities.
    see caption
    B-CU's Barrigan Tri-County Seniors

    The program also featured an expert panel of geriatric social workers and care managers that discussed fundamental features of effective caregiving. Dr. Deanna Wathington, Executive Dean and Professor of the College of Health Sciences, said that “this symposium is an exciting opportunity for the Bethune-Cookman University Petrock College of Health Sciences to engage community stakeholders about aging and caregiving. “

     

  • April 17, 2015

    Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., director of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research, died on April 16, 2015. He was 72.

    Dr Richard Suzman sitting at a desk

    Dr. Suzman possessed an unrivaled vision, energy and determination that helped transform the behavioral and social sciences. He made critically important contributions to the science of demography and promoted the development of new subfields, including the demography of disability and the bio-demography of aging. In his 30 years of distinguished federal service, Dr. Suzman brought us several new transdisciplinary fields of study, including neuro-economics, social neuroscience, and behavioral genetics. His career changed our understanding of longevity and aging, integrating economic and social behavior with biological and clinical aspects of advancing age.

    Perhaps his key achievement is the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which has grown to encompass a group of connected international surveys that cover more than half the world’s population. These related surveys allow researchers to compare data on aging cross-nationally, demonstrating how both common and unique biological, cultural, institutional, and policy features can impact health and well-being with age.

    Dr. Suzman’s relentless insistence that the HRS reach out to multiple disciplines, incorporate new ways of thinking, and adopt innovative technologies and methodologies has led to new and deeper insights into the ways people age across the globe. Some of these innovations include using biomarkers and genetic measures, promoting the public release of harmonized data from the HRS sister studies around the world, and providing data on Alzheimer’s disease prevalence and its impact on caregivers and society. The loss of Dr. Suzman will not only be felt here in the U.S., but internationally.

    At NIH, Dr. Suzman led the development of important trans-NIH initiatives. The Common Fund’s interests in the Science of Behavior Change and in Health Economics are already making a difference, through studies of new ways to intervene in health behaviors, including tobacco use, diabetes management, and the dissemination of and adherence to medical regimens. His understanding of how economics can affect health and aging has already changed trajectories for participation in pension savings in the U.S., for the benefit of today’s older Americans and generations to come.

    “On a personal level, Richard Suzman was for me a constant example of what can be accomplished through vision, energy and intellect,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “He was a tireless advocate for the best in science and for the health of older people and their families. We will remember Richard—both the scientist and the man—with admiration and affection.”

    A native of South Africa, Dr. Suzman joined NIA in 1983 as director of the Office of the Demography of Aging and staff director of the Federal Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, a coordinating organization made up of more than 35 federal agencies. He later served as chief of the Demography and Population Epidemiology Branch before becoming division director in 1998.

    Before his tenure at NIA, Dr. Suzman served on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, where he also served briefly on the faculty. After attending the University of the Witwatersrand, he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, and a Diploma of Social Anthropology from Oxford University.

    Obituaries:

    The New York Times: Richard Suzman, 72, Dies; Researcher Influenced Global Surveys on Aging

    The Washington Post: Richard Suzman, leader in research on how the world grows old, dies at 72

  • April 15, 2015

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the U.S., but it doesn’t occur in isolation. A new website—http://www.accagsniamultimorbidityworkshop.com—now provides the latest information on how to address the complex issues involved in caring for older adults with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and multiple coexisting conditions (MCCs).

    The website contains the agenda, presentation slides, and participant list of a recent workshop co-sponsored by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

    The goals of the workshop, held February 9–10, 2015, were to identify unmet needs, formulate a research agenda, and discuss strategies for translating new research findings into clinical practice, seeking to help improve patient-centered care and outcomes for the growing population of older adults with CVD and MCCs.

    Dr. Marcel Salive of NIA’s Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology served as a co-chair of the workshop; Drs. Sue Zieman of NIA and Larry Fine of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute participated as faculty members in sessions on training and career development opportunities for researchers. Workshop attendees included senior leaders from the cardiology, geriatrics, and nursing communities; representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations; industry partners; and selected early-career investigators and future leaders in cardiology and geriatrics.

    Two sessions on MCCs will be held at the AGS Annual Meeting, National Harbor, MD, May 15–17, 2015, emphasizing the importance of this topic.

    • Multimorbidity in Cardiovascular Disease: Proceedings of an ACC/AGS/NIA Workshop –Sunday, May 17, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Presenters will describe critical knowledge gaps and unmet needs related to the management of older adults with CVD and MCCs and discuss the need for a prioritized research agenda to address those gaps. They will also outline specific research programs that will provide the framework for modifying practice guidelines to more effectively treat older adults with MCCs and CVD; and describe methods for engaging a wide range of stakeholders in the design and execution of research programs to ensure better care for this population.
    • Improving the Health and Healthcare of Older Persons with Multiple Chronic Conditions –Saturday, May 16, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. This session, moderated by Dr. Salive, will describe the need for increased focus on the health and health care of older persons living with MCCs; discuss the state of the evidence guiding patient care; describe the importance of patient-reported outcomes, along with new data sources to inform clinical practice relating to older patients with MCCs; and describe a new model of care that could better meet the complex needs of older patients with MCCs.
  • April 14, 2015

    A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls for increased research on assessing and maintaining cognitive health in older adults. The report, Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action, released April 14, 2015, also suggests that some interventions for healthy aging—exercise, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and regular discussions with health professionals about medications and chronic conditions—be promoted to help maintain cognitive health. A third area of focus among the report’s 10 recommendations is aimed at the conduct and dissemination of independent reviews and guidelines for products claiming to affect cognitive health. The IOM report and its recommendations follow deliberations of a panel convened by the IOM with support from the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, AARP, the Retirement Research Foundation, the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal was to examine the public health dimensions and state of knowledge of cognitive aging.

    NIA maintains an active research portfolio in cognitive aging and provides a number of resources for the public and health care professionals in this area. Among these are:

    • Understanding Memory Loss: This easy-to-read booklet explains the difference between mild forgetfulness and more serious memory problems; describes the causes of memory problems and how they can be treated; and discusses how to cope with serious memory problems
    • List of Current NIA-Funded Age-Related Cognitive Decline Clinical Trials: This list of ongoing clinical trials contains links to information about trials, the trial location, and who to contact for additional information.
    • Brain Health Resource: This presentation toolkit offers current, evidence-based information and resources to facilitate conversations with older people about brain health. Designed for use at senior centers and in other community settings, it contains a PowerPoint presentation, an educator guide, handouts, and a resource list. Materials are written in plain language and explain what people can do to help keep their brains functioning best as they age.

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