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CALERIE Network aims to inspire, support new studies

Giovanna Zappala
Giovanna ZAPPALA [Former NIA Staff],
Health Scientist Administrator,
Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology (DGCG)

The first study to specifically focus on the effects of sustained caloric restriction (CR) in humans—CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy)—collected a trove of biosamples and data. CALERIE investigators are now aiming to facilitate new studies and analyses that will take advantage of these resources.

Following up on the initial results published in 2015, NIA worked with the study investigators to establish the CALERIE Research Network and make the CALERIE biorepository and datasets available for further investigations. Now, the Network is conducting a series of workshops which highlight specific scientific topics related to CR research in people and generate new ideas for potential ancillary projects from the research community, especially junior investigators.

The most recent workshop, “Facilitating CALERIE-Based Ancillary Studies” took place on August 3 in Chicago. During expert-led working groups, participants heard presentations on five central themes, led by expert investigators in the field:

  • Genomic/Epigenetic (Dan Belsky)
  • Behavioral/Cognitive (Corby Martin)
  • Circadian Rhythm (Sai Krupa Das & Satchidananda Panda)
  • MicroRNA (Virginia Kraus & Rozalyn Anderson)
  • Metabolomics/Proteomics (Wulan Wulaningsih & Bruce Kristal)

Nurturing new ancillary studies

This summer, NIA announced new funding opportunities for research using CALERIE data: CALERIE R01; CALERIE R21; CTS R01; CTS R21. The CALERIE Research Network will work with aspiring investigators throughout the year to help develop new ideas and to define original concept proposals for applications to these programs.

I encourage anyone interested in analyzing the CALERIE dataset and biospecimens to contact the CALERIE Research Network investigators through the CALERIE website. You may also be interested in joining one or more of the working groups. Some particular areas for exploration include:

  • Behavioral and psychosocial aspects of sustained CR through the CALERIE Computerized Tracking System (CTS) database. CALERIE investigators developed the CTS database to enhance participants’ adherence with intensive behavioral strategies. The CALERIE CTS database has a toolbox of interventions including cognitive, behavioral and problem-solving strategies, training in portion size and calorie content, recipes and shopping lists, and possible involvement of family or friends in counseling sessions. You can learn more about the CTS data available for investigators and how to access it by viewing the webinar, Behavioral Aspects of Sustained Calorie Restriction in Humans.
  • Leveraging the NIH Common Fund initiative in CTS analysis. Researchers interested in the CALERIE CTS database should also look into the NIH Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Initiative, supported by the NIH Common Fund. The SOBC seeks to develop more effective behavioral interventions by promoting basic research that identifies key mechanisms underlying successful change across a broad array of health-related behaviors, including diet and exercise. The SOBC’s efforts complement the types of behavioral investigations and data analyses that can be implemented through the CTS database. These are powerful resources that truly can help investigators.

If you have additional questions about the CALERIE study or the CALERIE Research Network, please comment below. This field carries high public interest and is very much an opportunity that deserves more attention from researchers on aging.

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