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Addressing global challenges for aging and dementia

Damali Martin
Damali MARTIN,
Program Director,
Division of Neuroscience (DN)
BSR/PSP Branch Chief
Chief, Population and Social Processes Branch,
Division of Behavioral and Social Research (DBSR)

Editor's Note:

Interested in the Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) program? Attend a Pre-Application Webinar on Thursday, April 29 at 8:30am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). This online event will cover the programmatic, administrative, and review aspects of the linked FOAs, and NIH staff will answer questions. No registration is required, and a recording will be available soon after the webinar. Submit questions by April 26!

Climate change, air pollution, and pesticides are environmental and occupational hazards shared by all societies. But their impact is magnified many times over in developing nations where rapid growth in industrialization, car ownership, and urban lifestyles are colliding with insufficient research and public health infrastructure.

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have higher rates of environmental and occupational illnesses and injuries compared to higher income nations. This problem will intensify as the number of older adults and people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) in LMICs continues to grow. Addressing these challenges requires trained scientists who are experienced in large-scale environmental and occupational health analysis and well-versed in the socioeconomic and policy context affecting healthy aging interventions.

To this end, NIA is excited to join our NIH colleagues at the Fogarty International Center (FIC), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Cancer Institute, and Office of Research on Women’s Health to support the Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) program. Led by FIC, GEOHealth works to build institutions and networks in developing countries for coordinated and collaborative environmental and occupational health research, data management, and training at the local, regional, and global levels. Current GEOHealth hubs are located in Southeast Asia, India, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.

Expanding GEOHealth to the science of aging

Each NIA GEOHealth hub will be supported by two coordinated, linked awards: 1) a cooperative research award to an institution in a developing nation and 2) a training award to a U.S. institution with substantial NIH involvement to coordinate research training. Applicants must commit to extensive teamwork between these two institutions to meet GEOHealth goals.

Suggested interest areas include:

  • Integrating environmental or occupational risk factors into cohort studies in high-exposure areas
  • How differences in where people live and work relate to health and cognitive outcomes, especially via changes in access to educational or work opportunities
  • Interactions between environmental exposure factors
  • Vulnerable or under-researched LMIC populations, including women, children, and older adults

All GEOHealth projects must feature mentored research training and career development programs for LMIC scientists in a variety of disciplines. For more details or to apply for GEOHealth funding, visit RFA-TW-21-001 or RFA-TW-21-002.

Universal lessons

Helping to improve environmental and occupational health for older adults in the developing world offers us valuable insights as we seek to address similar conditions back home. Another benefit of this partnership is expanding the diversity of populations included in aging and AD/ADRD research, which will help us make sure potential future treatments will work not just for some, but for all.

We are thrilled to join our NIH partners on this important scientific initiative. Check out the GEOHealth website or email Damali or John for more information!


Submitted by Jeyanthi Ramasubbu on April 07, 2021

This is exciting news. I would love to be part of the Global Environmental and Occupational Health program. I am a pharmaceutical consultant with 20+ years of experience in drug discovery, translational research and drug delivery. I believe in lifestyle, nutrition, occupation and environmental impacts on aging and neurodegeneration, particularly, dementia in older adults. The effects of the above-mentioned factors are amplified in LMICs and a detailed study and strategic approach may help address this issue globally. Please let me know how I can get involved.

Submitted by Somiranjan Ghosh on April 07, 2021

Very interesting and intriguing thoughts of projects on the Global Heath. Having worked over 15 years on environmental exposures and the disease development, this RFA attracts me a lot and bringing collaboration with LMICs would be a great progress on the global health disparity in particular.

Submitted by Carlos Gil Galvez on April 07, 2021

Me interesa sumarme al proyecto sobre envejecimiento y demencia, aunque no necesariamente el envejecimiento conlleva a una demencia en general y a una demencia tipo Alzheimer en particular. Ya que considero que este tipo de enfermedad está íntimamente asociada a la pobreza, la mala calidad educativa, el origen familiar y la mala calidad nutricional a lo largo de la vida. Considero que partiendo de este enfoque se puede seleccionar a los grandes grupos de riesgo para seguirlos en el tiempos y ver quienes hacen una demencia y quienes no en tiempos de vejez con pobreza sin fronteras.

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