DEA

Small smiles of satisfaction spread around the staff in my office last week. The NIH Guide published the last of our long-running saga of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) on Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s-related dementias (ADRD). These were the concepts that the National Advisory Council on Aging approved last September (Thank you again, everyone!).

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We are excited to let you know that NIA has a resource for investigators seeking to analyze biomedical data. The Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study began in 1997 and collected data for 17 years on a cohort of older black and white adults living in Memphis and Pittsburgh. Participants were aged 70-79 at baseline. These data are now online on NIA’s website and available to qualified researchers. We invite you to take a look!

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As most of you probably know, there has been a big influx of funds for Alzheimer’s disease research, with perhaps more to come. We recently issued several new Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) focused on Alzheimer’s. A burning question in the minds of many scientists is: Can a basic biologist not currently working on Alzheimer’s really expect to receive funds targeted towards Alzheimer’s research?

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I visited Cleveland over Thanksgiving. In a moment of peace from family conversations, I picked up the local paper. The first story I encountered was a long report on the Health and Retirement Study findings, funded by NIA, showing a substantial decline in U.S. dementia rates in the last 20 years. Then, I encountered a story reporting Eli Lilly’s negative clinical trial results on solanezumab. My immediate conclusion was that, no matter where I go, my job follows me!

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As many of you know, if you’ve been reading this blog, both the Senate and House appropriations committees separately have passed bills calling for large increases in funds to support research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In fact, we’ve used that advance information to prepare to receive these funds, should they come our way in final legislation. That’s why we’re in the process of publishing many funding opportunity announcements that will take advantage of these funds, and other funds we will have, once we know our final budget.

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Are you ready to let the good times roll in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)? We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones in the Big Easy. We also hope that you’ll take the opportunity to connect with NIA staff at the meeting, during scientific sessions, and in the Exhibit Hall.

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The NIA recently created an online version of our Health Disparities Research Framework to showcase priorities and investments in this important aging research area. We hope that this site will serve as a resource for scientists interested in investigating health disparities related to aging. Please visit the page and take a look at the Framework’s interactive format.

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On September 21–23, 2016 almost 100 physicians and researchers attended the second biennial GEMSSTAR Scholars Conference, “Models and Studies of Aging,” here in Bethesda. The meeting was sponsored by a U13 conference grant from the NIA to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), with additional support from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

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So you think you want to conduct a clinical trial? Of course, it’s a very complex undertaking. Each stage requires you to comply with regulatory and research standards. And from scientific protocols to procedural manuals, several key documents drive both trial operations and protocol compliance. I’m pleased to let you know that NIA has come up with one way to help you streamline study start-up and adhere to standards.

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Our National Advisory Council on Aging meeting last month proved to be very exciting. We have received increased public interest, together with additional funding in recent years, to accelerate progress against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This has blossomed into numerous concepts for new initiatives that came before the Council to review. Their enormous accomplishment at this meeting was to approve 26 concept proposals for funding opportunities.

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