The Division of Behavioral and Social Research had an opportunity to work with the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Research (OBSSR) to conduct a one-day exploratory meeting on June 4, 2012, devoted to the topic of replicability in the behavioral and social sciences, a topic of interest to all three parties. The purpose of this meeting was to begin a dialog with the extramural research community on what the key issues are for replicability and why well-designed failures to replicate too often go unpublished. Issues of research integrity and replicability in the social and behavioral sciences have been receiving a great deal of recent attention in the field. Two central issues are: (1) Recognizing and correcting false-positive results, specifically, the need for improving techniques used for hypothesis formation and determination of statistical significance that would lessen the likelihood of publishing spurious results; and (2) Strengthening the role of replication in advancing scientific knowledge, specifically how to encourage and value the publication of both successful and failed replications of previous research. Although these and related issues connected to replicability are also being raised in the broader science community, they have become a leading focus of current discussion both within the social and behavioral sciences themselves and among policy makers. This meeting explored strategies that journals, funding agencies, and the scientific community can pursue to address issues related to replicability of behavioral and social research findings. (For more information contact: Dr. Jonathan King, 301-402-4156.)
This exploratory meeting was planned with NAS Board on Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences. The purpose of this meeting was to bring together select individuals with expertise in behavioral interventions, motivation theory, aging and life course development, and personality psychology to discuss how to apply knowledge and approaches from these fields to successful interventions to increase motivation in aging populations and improve aging outcomes. (For more information please contact:
Dr. Lis Nielsen, BSR, 301-402-4156.)
The purpose of the forum is to bring together new awardees of grants from DAB In the spring of the year following their award, to encourage their continued success in this field by allowing them to get acquainted with us (NIA program staff) as well as network with each other. The new investigators were asked to make short presentations describing their planned work (or results to date) with an emphasis on how it relates to the area of aging research.
The meeting opened with a keynote address by an eminent aging researcher (Marc Tatar) on the evening of June 19th and the new investigators gave their presentations on June 20-21. The meeting was held in Bethesda, MD.
Contact: Dr. David Finkelstein, DAB, 301/496-6402.
The cutaneous and mucosal surfaces of human body are occupied by complex microbial communities. The Human Microbiome Project, funded by NIH Roadmap since 2008, has generated a rich resource, which includes microbial genome sequences, phylogenetic and functional gene sequence data from the microbiomes of healthy adults and from the microbiomes associated with human diseases of gut, skin and urogenital sites. Although recent advances in our understanding of human microbiomes have provided tremendous insights, a great deal remains to be learned about human microbiomes and aging. This exploratory workshop was called to assess the status of this field and identify new opportunities in this research area. Thirteen invited speakers and NIA staff also discussed various scientific issues in the studies of microbiomes and aging, and potential strategies to address these issues.
The exploratory workshop was held on July 26, 2012 in Bethesda, MD.
Contact: Dr. Max Guo and Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, DAB, 301/496-6402.
Aging is a process involving many epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, histone modification, gene regulation by microRNAs, and modulation of chromatin states. These epigenetic changes may also play important roles in mediating the impact of environmental factors. A greater understanding of the epigenetic changes during aging may provide new insights for the mechanisms of aging and aging-related diseases. Recent advances in DNA sequencing, new epigenetic approaches, single cell and single-molecule technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity in this field. Many questions remain to be addressed, and the critical obstacles in the field need to be identified and tackled. The Division of Aging Biology (DAB) and the Division of Neuroscience (DN) have held an Advisory Workshop on Epigenetics of Aging on August 1-2, 2012 in Bethesda, MD. The goals of this workshop were to evaluate the status of the field, to define future directions, to evaluate critical needs, and to outline opportunities for the basic research in this area supported by NIA.
Contact(s): Dr. Max Guo, DAB, 301/496-6402; Dr. Suzana Petanceska, DN, 301/496-9350; Dr. Jose Velazquez, DAB, 301/496-6402; Dr. Brad Wise, DN, 301/496-9350.
An exploratory workshop was held on August 3, 2012 in Bethesda, MD to examine the role of chronic inflammation in the development of fibrotic lesions in various organs with aging and also its role in impaired wound healing in aging. The participants were asked to give a state of the science presentation in their respective areas and to identify key questions for future focus. Impaired chronic wound healing is an enormous problem in the elderly population that is poorly understood. Tissue fibrosis is a major cause of progressive organ failure and is a leading cause of morbidity in older individuals. Fibrotic disorders affect different organ systems including the cardiovascular system, the liver, kidneys and lungs. Fibrosis is an adaptive physiological response to epithelial/endothelial injury and is self limited in normal wound healing. However, the process can become pathological when it becomes a progressive process that impedes normal tissue homeostasis. The mechanisms that link aging and fibrosis are not understood but it is thought that the development of an inflammatory phenotype contributes to the increased occurrence of fibrotic disorders with age. The role of senescent cells in this process is beginning to be appreciated as they are capable of modifying neighboring and remote cells through the production of an altered secretome which may contribute to a chronic inflammatory state and resultant increase in fibrosis.
Contact(s): Drs. Rebecca Fuldner/John Williams, DAB, 301/496-6402.
An advisory workshop on the role of age-related chronic inflammation in aging and chronic disease is scheduled for August 15-16, 2012 in Rockville, Maryland. The purpose of this workshop is to review current state of evidence on the causal role and mechanisms of chronic inflammation in the initiation and progression of chronic disease and functional decline associated with aging; to recommend new interventional studies on treatment or prevention of chronic inflammation, including clinical trials or preliminary and translational studies needed to provide a foundation for future clinical trials; to identify opportunities and analytical techniques for secondary data analyses or biomarker assays pertinent to chronic inflammation in the elderly; and to recommend the optimal organizational structure suitable for the implementation of the recommended studies. A research initiative may be published as a result of this workshop. (Contact: Barbara Radziszewska, Ph.D., DGCG, Ph: 301-435-3046)
Through the auspices of the Trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group (see above), an advisory workshop was held in September 6-7, 2012 in Rockville, MD.
The elderly comprise the fastest growing segment of our population and aging itself is the largest single risk factor for most chronic diseases. However, the mechanistic bases for age-associated functional deficits are not well understood and the translation of basic research discoveries to clinical applications is lagging. The overarching goal of the Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG) is to identify major cross-cutting areas of research and coordinate approaches to identify hurdles and envision solutions. This workshop brought together a group of research experts to highlight the multiple aspects of inflammation-associated disease processes of aging. It generated vigorous unscripted discussions that helped in the identification of emerging areas of aging biology that crosscut all scientific fields, compelling research questions that aren’t being addressed, and activities needed to accelerate research in aging biology and its role as a risk factor for age-related disease. The proceedings of the workshop will be shared with the scientific community at large through the publication of a meeting report and, most notably, they will provide the foundation for the development of trans-NIH initiatives to promote research on basic biology of aging and its relationship to earlier life events, exposures, and diseases.
Contact(s): Drs. Felipe Sierra/Ronald Kohanski, DAB, 301/496-6402.
This exploratory meeting was chaired by Dr. David Reiss, BSR contractor, and Steven Suomi, NICHD. This Network is the first NIA effort to capitalize on recent research on mechanisms that account for the long-term effects of childhood adversity on patterns of healthy and impaired trajectories in aging. (For more information contact Dr. David Reiss or Erica Spotts, 301-402-4156.)
This exploratory meeting will present commissioned analyses on longitudinal data on aging stress and health based on the workgroup’s newly developed common conceptual framework for stress measurement. (For more information contact Dr. Lis Nielsen, 301-402-4156.)
The steady-state design of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) calls for a new 6 year birth cohort to be introduced every six years to maintain a nationally representative sample of older Americans. Therefore, the HRS will add the late Baby Boom cohort (1960-1965) in 2016 followed by the 1966-1970 birth cohorts in 2022. NIA seeks insights on the most innovative and cost effective screening techniques from experts. The NAS will gather a panel of experts, including some members of the HRS staff, for a one-day exploratory expert meeting to discuss cost-effective screening approaches for the HRS.