Office of the Director

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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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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As we begin the new calendar year, I am happy to discuss exciting news about the NIH and NIA budgets for fiscal year 2016. As many of you probably know by now, on December 18, President Obama signed into law the FY2016 Omnibus Bill, which gave NIH an overall increase of $2 billion, or about 6.6 percent, above the FY2015 appropriation level. Importantly for NIA, this included an increase of approximately 33 percent over our FY2015 budget, which in large measure reflects some $350 million specifically directed to research into Alzheimer’s disease.

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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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I mentioned in an

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Two recent blog posts illustrate the complex challenge to NIA in its current budget planning. On the one hand, we have launched a substantial “short-term, high-priority” R56 award program in response to the intense competition for our limited pool of competing general research funds. On the other hand, we have announced the publication of 10 funding opportunity announcements with a primary focus on Alzheimer’s disease.

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Everyone who is anyone is going to be at the National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA), including many of NIA’s senior and program staff. If you want the most up-to-date information on NIA’s budget and funding, scientific program activities, and research highlights, tune in and join us for the National Advisory Council on Aging meeting tomorrow morning.

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On July 8, 2015, NIA’s Office of Special Populations released PA-15-293, “Aging Research to Address Health Disparities.“ It seeks to support aging research that addresses disparities in health, including preclinical, clinical, social, and behavioral studies. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the Division of Aging Biology (DAB) to discuss some opportunities for involving basic researchers in health disparities research.

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Just last week, I had the honor of presenting, on behalf of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, the first-ever NIH Professional Judgment Budget for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Outlined at the July 27 meeting of the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, the proposal—commonly referred to as a Bypass Budget—lays out NIH’s plan to speed discovery into these devastating disorders, aimed at meeting the research goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease—to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.

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