The “choices” theme program highlighted cutting-edge research in the domains of behavioral- and neuro-economics and the decision sciences, areas where the development of applications to aging-relevant themes has been strongly encouraged by BSR. This program increased BSR’s visibility in the field of psychological sciences, particularly around the interface of psychology and economics, and attracted future investigators into the field of aging. (For more information, contact Drs. Lis Nielsen and Jonathan King, BSR, 301-402-4156.)
This NIA-supported exploratory meeting at the APS convention brought together leading researchers in behavioral and social research on decision making from the psychological and economic sciences to discuss potential areas of integration for advancing research on aging relevant themes. Discussion included possible behavior change and decision making interventions using economic and psychological integrative models. Discussants explored ideas of applying these models to retirement plans, financial decisions, diet behaviors, etc. for better health outcomes. (For more information, contact Drs. Lis Nielsen and Jonathan King, BSR, 301-402-4156.)
New technologies are making it possible to probe gene expression, DNA integrity, protein damage, etc. in living cells with single molecule sensitivity in real-time. Many important proteins are expressed at extremely low levels, thus making them inaccessible by classical genomic and proteomic techniques. The single molecule sensitive reporter systems that have been developed open up possibilities for system wide characterization of the expression of these low copy number proteins. Similarly, latest generation DNA sequencing allows the analysis of single genomes, thus providing important information about cell-to-cell variability in genome stability, mutation frequency, etc. This level of analysis is important since individual cell biochemical composition may be diluted by the surrounding cells. By studying single cells at the molecular level it will be possible to obtain fingerprints of bioprocess from different cell types and disease states and to change the response to various challenges by altering the level of these biological processes in a predictable manner. The insights into the biology of single cells will have important implications for the study of tissue and organ homeostasis.
The exploratory meeting assembled the leaders in the field of single cell analysis, together with researchers from the aging community to discuss new, cutting-edge developments and techniques in this fast-moving area. The presentations were focused on probing genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and imaging in living cells. The workshop was held on May 26, 2011 in Bethesda, MD. (Contact Dr. Jose Velazquez, DAB, 301/496-6402).
This exploratory meeting was held to bring together a NIA-sponsored panel of experts with a working group at OECD charged with the development of a handbook for the development of measures of Subjective Well-Being for use in national statistical surveys. A second meeting, to be held in Washington, DC, planned for late 2011, will review the draft document and prepare it for publication by OECD. (For more information, please contact Dr. Richard Suzman, BSR, 301-296-3138.)
The purpose of this 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 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 invitation letter includes the following language:
“Since you are being funded by the National Institute on Aging, we presume that your talk will clearly and explicitly demonstrate to us (and to the other forum participants) how your research is related to the area of aging.”
Each meeting opened with a keynote address by an eminent aging researcher (Donna Murasko and Steve Helfand).
Owing to the large number of new investigators added to the DAB portfolio in FY 2010, the DAB NIF was divided into two parts this year; one part for R01 awardees and the other for K and F, small grant and post doc awardees.
Both workshops (Part 1 – R01s [June 21-22, 2011] and Part 2 – Ks & Fs [June 27-29, 2011]) were held in Bethesda, MD. (Contact Dr. David Finkelstein, DAB, 301/496-6402).
The Division of Aging Biology (DAB) sponsored an exploratory workshop in July to discuss recent findings in our understanding of immune regulation of bone cell differentiation. Osteoimmunology is an emerging field of research related to understanding the interactions between the immune and skeletal systems. The interactions between the immune system and bone involve direct cell to cell contacts between different cells of the immune system, bone marrow stromal cells and osteoclasts as well as effects mediated by the release of cytokines and chemokines by cells of the immune system. Chronic inflammation or immune activation has been demonstrated to influence osteoimmunology and produces metabolic, structural and functional changes in bone. Moreover, adipose tissue also has important effects on bone releasing factors such as adipokines that may influence bone homeostasis. Given the changes in the immune system that occur with aging which includes the development of a chronic inflammatory state, the interactions between the immune system and bone need to be addressed in the context of aging. In addition, a role for senescent T cells in the development of osteoporosis has been reported by multiple groups. ;In view of recent data indicating the increased complexity of endocrine regulation of both the immune system and bone remodeling, there is a basis for further investigating the age-related aspects of the mechanisms involved in mediating cross talk between these systems.
A one day workshop was held in July 18, 2011 in Bethesda, MD.
(Contacts Drs. Rebecca Fuldner or John Williams, DAB, 301/496-6402).
This exploratory workshop, convened by the Committee on Population at the National Research Council, gathered a panel of experts to evaluate the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology and sociology to the study of aging and to identify promising new research directions in these sub-fields. The workshop emphasized key themes such as the intersection of biology and social sciences, new methods for describing or measuring social contexts, and new targets for interventions. A report will be issued. (For more information, please contact Dr. John Haaga, BSR, 301-496-3138.)
DGCG and other NIA divisions are exploring strategies to enhance the status and use of biospecimen resources collected and stored by investigators of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) and other key clinical studies of aging funded by the NIA in order to broaden and facilitate new science on the aging processes. To advance this effort, an exploratory workshop: “Workshop on Biospecimen Repositories for NIA Clinical Studies” was convened on September 7, 2011 by DGCG in collaboration with DBSR and DN at Executive Plaza North (EPN), 6130 Executive Blvd, Rockville, Maryland to explore issues related to enhancing biospecimen management and utilization and developing mechanisms for long-term support. The overall objective of the meeting was to identify potential strategies to optimize the transparency and usefulness of some of NIA’s important biospecimen collections as well as the accessibility of their data and biospecimen resources to investigators in the broader extramural community. (Contact Dr. Sherry Sherman, DGCG, 301-496-676 ShermanS@nia.nih.gov )
NIA’s Division of Neuroscience held the 3rd Annual Investigators’ Meeting for Translational Research on September 13-14, 2011 in Bethesda, MD. This meeting brought together NIA-funded investigators involved in drug discovery and preclinical drug development for Alzheimer's Disease, NIA and FDA staff, as well as representatives from the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in the role of advisors. In addition to featuring progress on NIA-funded projects, part of the meeting program was dedicated to a series of presentations addressing the challenges associated with the use of animal models in preclinical drug development with an emphasis on identification of translatable biomarkers for the purpose of closing the preclinical-clinical drug development gap. (For more information, contact Dr. Suzana Petanceska, firstname.lastname@example.org  or Dr. Neil Buckholtz, email@example.com , DN, Ph.: 301-496-9350).
There is an established consensus across several disciplines on the need to adopt a lifecourse perspective to understand the evolution of health and the aging process. The aim of this NIA-supported exploratory workshop was to bring together researchers at the frontier of their fields to integrate biological, econometric, genetic and medical approaches to advance our knowledge on the developmental origins of health and aging, and to set priorities for future research agendas. The focus of the workshop was to explore potential synergies and to combine insights from evolutionary biology and medicine, together with genetic analysis and rigorous econometric modeling, to understand the mechanisms through which genetic endowments and early life conditions affect the evolution of health across the lifecourse. The meeting also considered the importance of selection effects in estimating the causal role of social and biological factors relevant to aging. Particular emphasis was given to the analysis of interventions, and how to characterize heterogeneity in their effects as function of genetic endowments. (For more information contact Dr. Erica Spotts, 301-402-4156.)
I. Teleconference and commissioned papers on "Integrating Genetic Data into BSR: Follow-up to NAS Meeting on HRS and GWAS"
BSR has been advancing research in the area of gene-environment interplay. To that end, BSR sponsored an Expert Meeting at the National Academies of Science on September 23-24, 2010 entitled “Using Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS) to Explore Fundamental questions About Aging in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) Sample.” BSR is now planning a series of teleconferences among leading experts in the field to follow up on issues raised at this meeting. (For more information contact Dr. Erica Spotts, 301-402-4156.)
II. Teleconference on Population Genetics, September 2011.
It has long been recognized that the HRS will have a lot to offer the field of population genetics because it is a national probability sample with genetic data, the likes of which does not exist elsewhere in the US. This teleconference will bring together experts in the field, to discuss population genetics as it relates to the HRS and for future directions for BSR in general. (For more information contact Dr. Erica Spotts, 301-402-4156.)
The purpose of this exploratory multi-disciplinary expert panel is to evaluate evidence and to assess effectiveness (and potentially safety) of treatment and prevention strategies for MCC patients, especially across differing treatment settings. The goal is to develop a core set of broad measures of health, function, and quality of life that could be used to characterize the status of older persons with a variety of combinations of conditions, and would be feasible to collect in clinical trials, surveys, and health care databases. Such measures would be useful for assessing and comparing the effectiveness and safety of new interventions and health care models for older patients with MCC. Agenda and participants are to be determined. (Contact Dr. Marcel E. Salive, DGCG, 301-435-3044 firstname.lastname@example.org .)
BSR is actively involved in the effort to fully understand and plan for the emerging costs of Alzheimer’s Disease. These efforts include the development of better methods for identifying and quantifying the costs of AD using new data collection methods, better mining of administrative records, and the development of economic modeling tools based on new estimates and projections of disease prevalence. Several experts will review recent and ongoing research on cost projections and modeling of direct and indirect costs of AD and prepare a presentation to be delivered at the teleconference. (For more information contact Dr. Colin Baker, 301-496-3138.)
The Division of Aging Biology of the NIA will co-sponsor an exploratory meeting on the subject of “Oxidative Stress and Aging”. The one-day meeting will be held in Los Angeles, CA on October 8th, 2011.
Since the mid ‘50s, oxidative stress has been one of the most central issues concerning the study of aging biology. We have assembled a group of leading researchers interested in this area, both NIA-funded and others, in order to discuss the current state of the science, as well as perceived gaps and possible ways to address those gaps. The relevance of the subject to the biology of aging will be discussed. (Contact Dr. Felipe Sierra, DAB, 301/496-6402).
This public exploratory workshop will review and discuss commissioned papers on changing risk factors and measuring health status in the context of transitioning populations. Topics will also include a discussion of methods for harmonization across different survey methods. Immediately following the public meeting the Panel will meet in closed session to work on a final report. (For more information please contact: Dr. Richard Suzman, BSR, 301-496-3131.)
BSR and the Brookings Institution will co-sponsor a workshop on “Use of Well-being Measures for Policy Analysis.” ;This meeting will examine the potential, challenges, and possible pitfalls associated with the use of metrics of subjective well-being for policy analysis. The meeting will be held in Washington, DC, at the Brookings Institution, on November 2-3, 2011. (For more information please contact Dr. Lis Nielsen, BSR, 301-402-4156.)
The purpose of this NIA-supported exploratory workshop is to explore and discuss harmonization strategies that will help to maximize the value of data within the behavioral and social sciences, and accelerate research integrating these data with genetic and genomic inquiry. It will draw from leading approaches and solutions developed under major harmonization initiatives (i.e., CaBIG1, P3G 2, CaHuB3, Gen2Phen4). The proposed workshop will convene a small group of experts working in specific areas of harmonization in cataloging or phenotype harmonization. It will introduce basic concepts and approaches and explore the best ways to build upon harmonization foundations already developed in other BSR harmonization activities. (For more information contact Dr. Jennifer Harris or Barbara Torrey, 301-496-3136.)