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Cleared concepts: A crystal ball for likely future funding initiatives

Dr. Marie Bernard
Marie A. BERNARD [Former NIA Staff],
Deputy Director,
Office of the Director (OD)

NIA is excited to unveil our latest collection of cleared concepts for funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). As presented at our final fiscal year 2019 National Advisory Council on Aging meeting, the late-summer crop yielded 15 intriguing ideas to share with the research community to help spark innovation and advances in the field.

As is recent tradition, we’ve published summaries of the newly cleared concepts on the NIA website, along with contact information for appropriate program staff. It’s important to note that this list doesn’t include award mechanisms or funding allocations, which won’t be finalized until any resulting FOAs are officially published in the NIH Guide. While cleared concepts represent interest at NIA for future FOAs, there is no guarantee that all of the concepts will end up as published FOAs. Nonetheless, in the past the vast majority of concepts have been published as FOAs in the weeks to months following their announcement.

To take advantage of the opportunity, if you are not already doing so, please monitor or subscribe to the NIH Guide and bookmark the NIA Grants and Funding page. You can also sign up to receive a monthly e-alert of the latest NIA funding opportunities at

NIA first began posting our cleared concepts in fall 2016 to enable broader dissemination of our research priorities to the scientific community. Since then, this information has been among our most in-demand content as researchers consider future applications and directions for their own labs or centers.

The fall lineup

With that said, here are the most recent set of approved concepts:

Be smart, start prepping now

If your field of study is on this latest list, it’s a smart idea to begin brainstorming now on how you might respond to possible future related Program Announcements, Requests for Applications, or Notices of Special Interest. Be sure to compile an updated tally of the facilities, equipment, personnel, and other resources you’ll need to pursue your desired topic. It’s also a perfect time to initiate informal dialogue with your colleagues to begin planning strategies and angles of approach for topics of interest.

Read and reach out

We share these concepts with the hope that they are a valuable resource. But more importantly, we seek and value your input. Once you have read them, reach out to contact program staff with questions, or comment below. We look forward to hearing from you as you explore NIA’s new possibilities on the horizon!


Submitted by Dorothy Sterlace on September 25, 2019

Substance abuse (drug and alcohol) by elders

Submitted by LEONARD HAYFLICK on September 25, 2019

The "research priorities" listed lack the most important priority overlooked by the NIA for years. If the prevailing belief in this field is that "aging is the greatest risk factor for age-associated diseases" then why is the fundamental etiology of aging rarely, if ever, made n NIA priority?
L. Hayflick
Founding Member of the Council of the NIA
Founding chair of the Executive Committee of the NIA
Past President of the GSA
Professor, UCSF

Submitted by Dr. Stephen B… on October 04, 2019

Our research team wishes to synthesize the existing body of knowledge on recruitment and retention of racial and ethnic minorities to biomedical research and use the data to create a virtual reality simulator with African American avatars as potential human subjects for Aging Research that requires collection of DNA. We believe advancements in computer technology will enable investigators to approximate real world conditions ... where they can practice their informed consent skills with avatars programed to respond how African Americans respond based on the existing literature. If successful , this new training platform can be scaled for national distribution .... of a standardized platform to help investigators become more culturally confident.


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