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The final stop on this line

Robin BARR [Former NIA Staff],
Division of Extramural Activities (DEA).

Small smiles of satisfaction spread around the staff in my office last week. The NIH Guide published the last of our long-running saga of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) on Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s-related dementias (ADRD). These were the concepts that the National Advisory Council on Aging approved last September (Thank you again, everyone!).

Our work in coordinating this effort began with a conversation last June. It has ended now. (Note to self: Heave a sigh of relief!) Of course, as I write these words, many of you are already writing applications, submitting them, or have plans already well-formed to submit in the future. That is exactly what we want you to do. (And, be assured, I am not planning to avoid further conversations this coming June concerning future FOAs…though the thought had crossed my mind!)

Our Current Budget

At this time, we are all going through a transition that brings with it an uncertain budget future for NIA and for NIH. We watch and wait. We hope, though, that YOU watch and write. If we receive the new funds for these FOAs that we anticipated when we planned them, and, if you do not submit an application, then you know what happens: Someone else is funded in your place. And, as we have indicated previously, we have arranged funds from the $350 million increase for ADRD research that we received last year to allow us to fund some applications responding to these FOAs, even if we receive no new money.

The last of this series of funding opportunity announcements are two more on the care continuum for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer’s-related dementia. The twist this time is to call on a new kind of caregiver—robots. Both announcements are small business initiatives that call for development work on socially assistive robots to engage individuals with Alzheimer’s disease; one supports small business research, and the other supports a small-business university partnership. The first submission deadline is on April 5 and we will consider applications submitted by that deadline for funding in FY 2017. These are continuing initiatives and they will stay active until 2020.

Our Research Partners

NIA does not stand alone in this effort. The funding that we have received for the overall initiative is a mouthful of words—“Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s-related dementias”—otherwise known as ADRD. Within that mouthful our sister Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), has some responsibility, and is participating with us both as a partner on some of the initiatives that we have published, and with initiatives of its own.

You may be interested in two FOAs that NINDS published recently. One targets genetic discovery, replication, and validation around the clinically heterogeneous, Frontotemporal Degeneration. The invitation is for a consortium to be established to fully engage this substantial task. NIA is a partner in this initiative. The other initiative invites further analysis of existing data, taken both from NIA- and NINDS-supported resources, to develop a focus around Lewy Body Dementia. NIA is also partnering with NINDS in this initiative.

The scene is set then. We have published 33 different FOAs on this ADRD initiative in a little over three months. The first applications are arriving. The whole episode has me wondering though. Are we a little mad? Perhaps we make that attribution only after the events take place. We’ll see.

You can find all the recent NIA ADRD funding opportunity announcements on our web site.

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