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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:

Hypothermia and older adults

The cold truth about hypothermia is that Americans aged 65 years and older face this danger every winter. Older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia because their body's response to cold can be diminished by underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, some medicines including over-the-counter cold remedies, and aging itself. As a result, hypothermia can develop in older adults after even relatively mild exposure to cold weather or a small drop in temperature.

I’m very pleased to announce that the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) and partners will host its second summit in 2016. The “Disease Drivers of Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience Summit” will take place on April 13–14 at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. Members of the Geroscience Interest Group from the NIH, with essential collaboration and support from the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Federation for Aging Research, and the Gerontological Society of America, have developed a theme and program for a second geroscience summit requested by the research community.

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Next week, NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) will hold its first meeting of 2016. The January 20 public session promises to be particularly interesting. NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes will provide some general background information on the FY 2016 budget for NIH and NIA. The session will also include NIH updates on research policy, as well as new scientific findings.

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Diet, exercise improve exercise capacity in certain heart failure patients

A randomized clinical trial of 100 patients found that diet and exercise—alone or combined—improved exercise capacity in obese older patients with a particular type of heart failure. The trial is the first to show that this dietary intervention was effective in improving exercise capacity and reducing symptoms in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF). The results appeared in the January 6, 2016, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was supported primarily by the NIA.

We all know that exercise and physical activity is good for us. Regular physical activity helps just about everything. But exactly how does exercise result in so many benefits? The answers may be found at the molecular level.

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Those of you who read part 1 of this post a couple of weeks ago will remember that I raised a question at the end of that post: Could a policy affecting all investigators (the NIH policy change to allow a single amended submission) have a singular effect on a sub-group of investigators—early-stage and other inexperienced researchers? This week, we have the answer!

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Death rate, poor health rise for middle-aged whites, reversing trend

The death rate among middle-aged, white Americans rose significantly between 1999 and 2013, reversing a decades-long trend of improvement, new research shows. This group also reported worse physical and mental health than other age groups, according to the NIA-funded study, published online Nov. 2, 2015, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

NIA’s Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology has developed a research program on the translation of genetic factors associated with longevity, giving us the chance to find new therapeutic targets to promote healthy aging. Translational genomics offers opportunities to identify new targets based on knowledge of the functional pathways of the gene variants associated with longevity.

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