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Help NIA map out our strategic direction

Kate Nagy
Kate NAGY,
Deputy Director, Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation,
Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation (OPAE)

As you know, NIA’s Strategic Directions document serves several purposes. It acts as a point of reference for setting scientific priorities; a framework for systematic analysis of the NIA’s research portfolio; and a benchmark against which we can assess progress. Perhaps most importantly, the Strategic Directions are a definitive statement of the NIA’s scientific priority areas within the rapidly evolving field of aging research.

In an April blog post, we announced that we will be updating the Strategic Directions document in FY 2019. To that end, we sent out a survey asking you several questions about how familiar you are with the document, how useful it is to you, and how you use it. We received some important information:

  • Almost half of our readers—48 percent—said they were not familiar with the document. That tells us we have some work to do in getting the word out about our plans and priorities.
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that they use the document to find general information about the NIA’s priorities. About half said they use it to determine whether their research is a good “fit” for NIA.
  • Several of you took the opportunity to leave comments, either within the survey or directly on the blog post. Respondents indicated that they used the document to shape and clarify grant applications or provide additional justification for grant funding. Others called for additional research on the etiology of biological aging, both in the United States and in the developing world.

We greatly appreciate every response we received and will carefully consider all of this information as we move forward in the process of developing the new document.

Tell us what you think!

Of course, an important aspect of NIA’s strategic planning process is receiving continued input from you—our grantees, reviewers, advocacy community, and public. To help this process along, we have posted a formal Request for Information (RFI). The RFI asks for feedback on the existing document, as well as new and emerging research topics and areas that should be reflected in the new one.

NIA staff will carefully review all feedback we receive via the RFI. Combined with input from NIA division directors and staff, as well as results of internal analyses of NIA’s current research portfolio, your comments will form the foundation of the new Strategic Directions. (Importantly, planning activities for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are, and will continue to be, carried out through a separate and parallel process.) We anticipate that the new Strategic Directions will be completed and made available in early summer 2019.

You can submit your response to the RFI by e-mail to the NIA Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation. We will accept responses until December 14, 2018. Your response is voluntary and will remain confidential.

And as always, THANK YOU! Your insights are crucial as we work together to plan for the future of the nation’s aging research.


Submitted by Evan on November 22, 2018

Some people care about maximizing life expectancy regardless of disability. Some people care about maximizing health-span. And some people care about minimizing the number of years spent in severe disability, even if this means shortening life span or health span. I would like to see more research on what the best way would be do reduce the time you are spent disabled. Because I have found few papers on that topic even though I think a lot of people would be interested in it. This would allow one person to make the choices that would allow him/her to live till 90 but spend 5 years in a nursing home, in progressively worse health. And a second person to make the choices that would allow him/her to die at age 85 of sudden cardiac arrest.

Submitted by Sabrina Hardenbergh on November 22, 2018

As I look at the many vectors that cause inflammation implicated in my mother's Alzheimer's, or various industry toxins, or inappropriate consumables likely linked with southern Illinois' cancer, COPD, and heart health problems, NIH and other research and policy needs to get in on the preventive end of fixing health problems. Presently many environmental justice problems are fought by environmental activists, but the medical sector needs to push for industry to stop making the hazards. If we're to transition to more cost effective Medicare for All, we must not only make billing and case management efficiencies, but prevent as many health hazards from inflicting our nation's people as possible. I'm specifically concerned about fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) pollution, land clearance changes, and economic boom-bust situations that impact health. Metro East STL also has much industry that makes for a cancer alley and COPD problem. Our food industry seems to have put sugar and inappropriate ingredients in way too many consumables that become a factor in diabetes, heart disease and possibly Alzheimer's. Grounded research to display these hazards would make for solid argument to stop industry from offloading their cost of doing business on our health and healthcare costs.

Submitted by LEONARD HAYFLICK on November 22, 2018

Aging is a problem in physics and not biology.

When will the NIA honestly focus on the name of its' institute by encouraging with RFP's or other means to enhance research on the etiology of aging? If aging is the greatest risk factor for age associated diseases why has the NIA failed to encourage research on the cause of aging? Rather than the diseases whose vulnerability aging causes?

Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D. Professor, UCSF
Founding member of the Council of the NIA and founding member of its' executive committee.

Thanks to all for your comments. They have been passed on to the people collecting comments about this RFI.

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