Office of the Director

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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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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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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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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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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