Office of the Director

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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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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If it’s September, it must be Council! It’s that time again! The public session of NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging is taking place tomorrow starting at 8:00 a.m., Eastern time. The meeting agenda and materials are available online. You can watch the archived videocast here: https://videocast.nih.gov/ in a few days. Read the full blog post.

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A few months ago, NIA decided to follow the practice of two other NIH institutes and arrange two-stage review of program projects. We have recently completed the first review cycle under this new review model. We launched this two-stage effort because of concern that the separate small committee reviews which each handled one program project lacked the context for scoring that is available to the customarily larger panels who review a substantial set of research grant applications in one meeting.

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On June 7, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes announced that Dr. John Haaga had been appointed director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research. Dr. Haaga was the acting director for the previous 15 months and the deputy director since 2004. "Inside NIA" sat down with Dr. Haaga to talk about his research plans for the division.

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If you are interested in health disparities and aging research, the NIA is ready, willing and able to help be a resource for you and the field. In recent months, we have undertaken several activities to enhance research opportunities, and I’d like to tell you about a few of these to keep you involved and make sure you’re up to speed!

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You have a burning idea about aging. Now you need the funding for it. What do you do? Or, you once sent an application through the inscrutable machinery of grants.gov. You even retrieved reviews after an eternity of waiting. And now, apart from burying the reviews in several feet of dirt where they will be of most use, you have no idea what your next move is. We may have the answer for you.

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California, here we come! No, we’re not participating in a gold rush, we’re going to the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) next week in Long Beach. We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. We also hope that you’ll take the opportunity to connect with NIA staff at the meeting, during scientific sessions and at the Exhibit Hall.

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At the National Institute on Aging, our shared vision is one in which all Americans enjoy robust health and independence with advancing age. Although we have come far in 40 years of supporting and  conducting research, we in the scientific community will need to think broadly, creatively, intelligently—and strategically—to pursue this goal most effectively. I am proud to let you know that an updated version of NIA’s Strategic Directions, Aging Well in the 21st Century, is now available.

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As the funding policy statement makes clear, the fiscal year 2016 budget is a historic first for NIA. Yes, we received a very substantial increase for research related to Alzheimer’s disease—$350 million. But, in addition to that, we received a 4.2-percent increase in our general budget. That amount is above the rate of inflation for the first time since 2003, at the end of the era of doubling the budget. But, the competition for new and renewing awards remains fierce.

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