DBSR

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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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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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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Research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) is an important component of the NIA’s mission. In recent years, Congress has provided a significant amount of additional funding beyond our typical appropriation for us to accelerate research on the basic biology, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care related to this devastating group of diseases. With this additional funding comes the responsibility to plan and set priorities for the funds’ use.

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Though research on age differences has its place, almost by definition, research on aging involves tracking people over time periods long enough to observe long-term changes in their lives and health. And, accurate measurements of large samples can be an expensive undertaking. The NIA has made major investments to create and maintain data resources that can be used for dozens—and in some cases, hundreds—of analyses, using the tools of the behavioral and social sciences.

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Flip a coin? Roll the dice? Consult an expert? How do you decide?

What happens as we age that may either compromise or strengthen our decision-making capacities? To appreciate how aging affects our ability to make decisions, we need to first understand age-related changes in basic psychological processes involved, including social, cognitive and emotional motivations for decisions. Research providing that knowledge can help us build better interventions to support decision making by older adults including decisions that affect their health.

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The entire U.S. government, including NIA, is currently operating under an extension of a continuing resolution (CR) that will end on April 28…unless it is extended again, that is. A continuing resolution extends the previous year’s appropriations act, and the appropriations language within it, into the next fiscal year. It is usually minimally altered from the terms in the prior year. In other words, at this point in FY 2017, we’re operating with virtually the same budget we had in FY 2016.

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