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Office of Special Populations continues the momentum in 2018

Carl HILL [Former NIA Staff],
Office of Special Populations (OSP).

As we look forward to a bevy of fall activities, I’d like to update you on some of the Office of Special Populations’ (OSP) recent happenings and activities.

Butler-Williams Scholars gather at NIH

This summer’s Butler-Williams Scholars Program was everything we hoped it would be! More than 50 diverse early-career investigators traveled to the NIH campus to hear tips on developing grant applications and discuss best practices for conducting rigorous research on aging. The 2018 Scholars are doing exciting work in various domains of aging research, and we encourage you to follow their journey to becoming NIA-supported investigators by following @BWscholars2018 on Twitter. Special thanks go to the John A. Hartford Foundation for its support of the B-W Scholars and to the Alzheimer’s Association and the Gerontological Society of America for sponsoring ancillary activities associated with this year’s program! Information and applications for the 2019 program will be available in December; applications are due in March.

Health disparities research related to aging

OSP continues to use the NIA Health Disparities Research Framework to spark collaborations with NIA extramural divisions and encourage health disparities research in aging. We recently teamed with colleagues in the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology to develop the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) PA-18-751, Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Research to Address Health Disparities. This FOA stimulated research applications on geriatric conditions where disparities emerge in diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment. Funded projects range from research to identify appropriate markers for cognitive decline in African Americans to an investigation of autoimmune comorbidity as a factor for racial disparities in lung physiology.

Another FOA released this year focuses on engaging and recruiting people from diverse populations to participate in aging research. PAR-18-749, Examining Diversity, Recruitment and Retention in Aging Research (R24) encourages collaborative teams to target gaps in methods and outcomes regarding recruiting and retaining these critical participants. This approach will be used to develop resources for researchers seeking to include diverse populations in aging research.

NIA also encourages research on disparities in Alzheimer’s disease with PAR-15-349, Health Disparities and Alzheimer’s Disease (R01) and PAR-15-350, Emerging Directions for Addressing Health Disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease (R03). These FOAs have proved very popular, with NIA supporting more than 60 research projects so far.

Upcoming Events

Looking ahead, we’re excited to hold the 2018 NIA Director’s Regional Meeting on November 1, 2018 at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus in Overland Park, KS. NIA senior staff and division directors will share information on NIA research and training resources, technical assistance on grant writing, and advice on the design of new research proposals. You can register online for this NIA outreach activity. (Registration for this past event is now closed.)

If you’re planning to attend the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in San Diego, I hope you’ll check out the activities of its Aging and Public Health Section. A session on Tuesday, November 13, at 10:30 a.m. will highlight health disparities research by some of the early career investigators at the NIA-funded Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research.

Investigators from the NIA’s Health Disparities Research Network will also be busy during the 2018 Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. Butler-Williams Scholars Program Alumni are partnering with GSA’s Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization to hold a panel session that showcases their innovative health disparities research Friday, November 16 at 8:30 a.m. In addition, all the awardees from last year’s NIA Health Disparities Research Administrative Supplement will join a panel session on Saturday, November 17 at 12:30 p.m. to present their aging biology research focused on health disparities.

I hope you’ll join our network in Overland Park, San Diego, and/or Boston to discuss NIA’s resources and hear about aging research from our awardees!