Health Disparities

Are you a post-doc looking for training in aging research? Are you an established researcher who’s new to the area of aging research? Are you junior faculty interested in expanding your career options? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you should apply for the 2017 NIA Butler-Williams Scholars Program.

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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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Researchers often complain to us that new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) scoot past them, lost in the blizzard of information that arrives daily. Unless you obsessively monitor the NIH Guide—which we’re not necessarily recommending—you may not see every new announcement that NIA publishes. And, unless you have a well-thought-out research proposal outlined and ready to commit to paper, it sometimes can be difficult to pull together a grant application in the time allowed.

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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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The mighty push for research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias continues at NIA. While an earlier blog highlighted the research initiatives we have published, this chapter covers the more recent publication of two training initiatives and four small business-related initiatives.

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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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