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Funding supplements aim to address bioethics of aging research

Kristina McLinden
Kristina MCLINDEN,
Program Director,
Division of Neuroscience (DN)
Dr. Isis Mikhail
Isis MIKHAIL [Former NIA Staff],
Supervisory Health Scientist Administrator,
Scientific Review Branch (SRB)

Though growing numbers of Americans can celebrate birthdays that begin to approach the triple digits, advanced age has its challenges, too. As the number of oldest old continues to rise, these aging adults and their caregivers, nurses, physicians, and social workers face a challenging minefield of bioethical decisions in care that often yield no simple answers and can threaten independence or strain resources. Evidence-based research can help establish meaningful guidelines and policies for better informed practices as families, researchers, and clinicians grapple with evolving bioethical issues in this expanding field.

We hope that NIA’s research community will be particularly interested in a recent Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for administrative supplements to existing grants to support research on bioethical issues to inform future policy directions.

A new opportunity

Although NIH has long supported bioethics-related research projects, this administrative supplement program has some unique qualities. Applicants may propose to examine novel bioethical research issues or challenges by adding a one-year, bioethics-focused component to supplement their parent grant, regardless of whether that grant originally focused on bioethics.

Another exciting feature is that this administrative supplement is intentionally not limited in scope—yes, it is indeed meant to allow you the flexibility to address any bioethics-related topic appropriate to your scientific project and goals. This broad scope may be a one-time opportunity, so it will be exciting to see the range of bioethics areas that you explore.

Time is of the essence

If you plan to take advantage of this opportunity, please make sure to prepare your supplement soon! The deadline to submit your application is May 13, 2019. The Office of the Director plans to dedicate at least $2 million in fiscal year 2019 to fund approximately 10 supplements for one year. Complete information, including how to apply, can be found in the FOA.

Innovative ideas needed

The broadness of this supplement program is certainly an advantage, but where do you start? You will notice that the FOA includes some overarching areas of research interest for guidance; however, your application is not limited to these areas. From the ethics of informed consent, through the sensitive decision-making around guardianship, to incentives for recruitment into clinical trials, the topics are open. Your innovative ideas to bring bioethical issues among the aging population to light are strongly encouraged.

If you need help brainstorming topics, consider taking a look at NIA’s mission and strategic directions for ideas. The rising number of vulnerable oldest old provides an urgency to this call that we hope you recognize and respond to.

Apply soon!

We encourage you to take advantage of this broad-scope opportunity to add bioethics research to your current grant. Remember to apply quickly as the May 13 deadline is approaching! We look forward to seeing your novel ideas addressing the growing bioethical challenges in aging research.

If you have other questions about this FOA, leave us a comment below, or contact Dr. Kristina McLinden at 301-827-2563 or send an email.


Submitted by Robin Green on April 04, 2019

Is it possible to apply if the current grant is in its' last year of funding? Investigators are seeking additional funding but the mechanism will be a U19. We are awaiting reviewer comments currently for our current grant submission which was reviewed mid march.

Submitted by on April 05, 2019

In reply to by Robin Green

Yes, you can apply in your last year of funding. The supplement cannot extend beyond the end date of the parent award. Do consider the time remaining on the award, the time it will take before the supplement would be awarded, and whether meaningful time will remain to conduct the work described. Please email me at if you have further questions.

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