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The NIH Annual Pain Consortium Symposium recently took place on the NIH campus. The annual meeting, which highlights current knowledge and advances in pain research supported by the NIH and other agencies, was particularly timely, as pain management and the use of pain medications is a topic that has gripped the nation over the past year. It’s more critical than ever that we find new ways to evaluate and manage pain.

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The Grant Support Index. At the moment, if you bring up these words around NIH, you are guaranteed an extended conversation, meetings that run long and late, and strong emotions bubbling throughout. I suspect much the same is happening on many campuses.

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As you may know, the National Advisory Council on Aging met here in Bethesda last week. Among the many actions it took was the review and approval of seven new concepts for NIA Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). You can find brief summaries of the cleared concepts on our website.

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The wait was long—but the news is good! If you’ve been following events on Capitol Hill, you already know this. NIH has received a $2 billion increase in budget for this fiscal year, reflecting much-appreciated bipartisan support for biomedical research. NIA’s own budget received a monster $400 million boost for Alzheimer’s-related research, and our budget for other research areas increased at the same percentage rate as the NIH budget.

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On April 6–7, 2017, almost 300 researchers and private foundation representatives attended the Cognitive Aging Summit III in Bethesda, Maryland. The themes for this Summit were cognitive and brain resilience and reserve. Over a day and a half, investigators from around the world delivered talks and discussed some of the most important issues facing the public as we seek to find ways to preserve or even improve cognitive function and brain health as we age. 

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Stem-cell therapies or stem-cell-targeted treatments are being used in clinics across the country to treat a variety of diseases and conditions. The 21st Century Cures Act, which was enacted in December2016, includes the Regenerative Medicine Initiative which will help us better understand how clinicians may use stem cells safely and effectively in therapy.

 

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Did you know? NIA receives somewhere around 4,000 applications for funding in response to new and existing funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) each year. And, each application is reviewed. With that level of interest, you can imagine that we are always looking for investigators who are willing and able to serve as peer reviewers.

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As readers of this blog surely know, NIA publishes Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) in the NIH Guide to—you guessed it—announce new opportunities to apply for funding. We use FOAs to inform potential applicants of new initiatives ranging from traditional R01 research grants to large P50 center grants and national surveys. But have you stopped to think about where an FOA originates? Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at FOA development.

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A recurring question from readers after I post a new funding line blog post is: Does that line apply to my application? It usually does, bringing good news to those blessed with applications within that line. The normal caution applies—the line means that we expect to pay awards. Still, the funding line doesn’t apply to everything.

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In mid-January, I attended the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This unique event—popularly referred to simply as Davos—connects international leaders in the private and public sectors—from government, business, and academia—to improve the global community. While “economics” is part of the meeting’s name, health, science, and technology were integral to the discussions.

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