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It’s spring! Here’s some exciting news that may help you get some spring fever! Effective with applications submitted on February, 12, 2016, and moving forward, NIH is allowing up to $100,000 plus fringe benefits toward an applicant’s salary to cover the percentage effort requested on NIH K08 and K23 awards. Current K awardees also benefit from these new guidelines.

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Thousands of gene candidates in the human genome have the potential to play a role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. But you are just one scientist. How can you even start such an enormous task? This quest—one scientist analyzing thousands of gene candidates—can seem overwhelming. I want to share with you two great NIA-funded resources that collect and store biological specimens and data—and are available to you and the wider research community.

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When I began graduate school in 1999, I knew right away that my experience would be different from that of my peers: I am a female scientist of color, and when I looked for others that looked like me, I saw only a few. Naturally, I wondered why this was the case and whether anything could be done to change the situation. While I understood the complexities of this issue, I believed that something could be done, and fortunately when I arrived at NIH, I found ready agreement among my colleagues.

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Decoding the molecular ties between vascular disease and Alzheimer's

Seeking a better understanding of vascular contributions to Alzheimer's disease, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Molecular Mechanisms of the Vascular Etiology of Alzheimer's Disease (M²OVE-AD) Consortium, a team-science venture to build a nuanced model of Alzheimer's disease that more accurately reflects its many causes and pathways.

Although Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in older adults, an estimated 20 to 40 percent of people with dementia have some other form—such as Lewy body, vascular or frontotemporal dementia. NIH is focused on advancing our understanding of these Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (ADRD). I hope you will join us in this effort by attending—either in person or by webcast—the 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias Summit.

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If we hope to translate what we are learning about Alzheimer’s disease into health, safety, and emotional well-being benefits for Alzheimer’s patients and their families, then small businesses have a vital role in making that happen. The NIA recently published two funding opportunity announcements for small businesses focused on Alzheimer’s disease. One targets the Small Business Innovative Research program and the other the Small Business Technology Transfer program. Both have an initial submission date approaching rapidly—April 5. And if peer reviewers smile upon your application, you can even receive funding before the end of September this year.

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The big news of 2016 so far is the increase in the NIA budget. We’re very excited about the many opportunities in aging research that will be possible because of these extra funds. As we flesh out new funding opportunities and wait for applications in response to existing announcements, we thought we would reprise a few interesting posts from the last few months in case you missed them. If you missed a few, now is your chance to catch up.

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2016 Butler-Williams Scholars Program now accepting applications

Emerging researchers, including those with limited involvement in research on aging, are invited to apply for the next Butler-Williams Scholars Program, to be held July 25-29, 2016, at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, MD.

Sponsored by NIA, the 5-day program will explore research design relative to aging, including issues relevant to racial/ethnic minorities and health disparities. The agenda will include:

As we begin the new calendar year, I am happy to discuss exciting news about the NIH and NIA budgets for fiscal year 2016. As many of you probably know by now, on December 18, President Obama signed into law the FY2016 Omnibus Bill, which gave NIH an overall increase of $2 billion, or about 6.6 percent, above the FY2015 appropriation level. Importantly for NIA, this included an increase of approximately 33 percent over our FY2015 budget, which in large measure reflects some $350 million specifically directed to research into Alzheimer’s disease.

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NIH supports new studies to find Alzheimer’s biomarkers in Down syndrome

The National Institutes of Health has launched a new initiative to identify biomarkers and track the progression of Alzheimer’s in people with Down syndrome. Many people with Down syndrome have Alzheimer’s-related brain changes in their 30s that can lead to dementia in their 50s and 60s. Little is known about how the disease progresses in this vulnerable group.

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