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Full speed ahead for aging research in 2022

Dr. Richard Hodes
Richard J. HODES,
Director,
Office of the Director (OD)
.

Time flies, particularly when we’re surrounded by invigorating science — Happy New Year! As has become the tradition for the Inside NIA blog, I’m delighted to present a few of our priorities for the year ahead.

Diversity and health disparities

Institute-wide, NIA will continue to strengthen our commitment to and efforts in boosting diversity in both the scientific workforce and clinical trial participation. We’ll also continue to support scientists committed to addressing health disparities. The Butler-Williams Scholars Program remains a key part of NIA’s efforts to mentor a diverse next generation of scientists.

Ramping up clinical trial recruitment

NIA also continues to develop a variety of tools and resources to help our grantees improve clinical trial recruitment and participation among traditionally underserved communities. In 2022, our efforts in this area will include producing materials to better engage American Indian/Alaska Native populations and helping grantees with recruitment strategy planning.

Meeting ongoing COVID challenges

We are grateful that vaccinations provided older Americans and the broader population with a pathway to safely return to many previous daily activities and to reconnect with fully vaccinated loved ones. The pandemic also provided opportunities for further study of the science of healthy habits and behaviors. For example, last summer, NIA hosted an Investigators’ Workshop on Aging Research on COVID-19 featuring scientists pursuing a broad range of pandemic questions. Highlights from the workshop included an analysis of COVID-19-related risks, disparities, and outcomes for Americans with dementia. We’re also supporting research into COVID-19 in aging and age-related neurodegeneration and look forward to seeing those projects develop in 2022.

CARD building momentum

NIH’s latest Intramural Research Program facility, the Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (CARD), is expected to open its doors on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, this spring. CARD is also ramping up training with the launch of the Alzheimer and Related Dementias Independent Scholars (ARDIS) Program, which offers time-limited independent principal investigator appointments for early-career researchers. Interested candidates can learn more online or email NIACARDContact@mail.nih.gov for more details. Check out more on CARD’s career opportunities as NIA and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) continue to staff up for this exciting and innovative effort.

Mark your calendar for three key events in early 2022

The LATE 2022 seminar will provide an opportunity for researchers to learn more about Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy (LATE). LATE is a brain disorder related to the slow progression of memory loss in aging, mimicking the clinical features of Alzheimer’s disease. Like Alzheimer’s, LATE is very common in older adults and has a large public health impact, but it is not as well known and studied. LATE 2022 will be held virtually Feb. 11, 2022, 1-6 p.m. ET.

Additionally, NIA will join our NINDS colleagues for the 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias Summit on March 22 and 23 to address research priorities for Alzheimer's and related dementias. Gaps and opportunities identified by the summit are then considered by the NINDS Advisory Council to potentially become research milestones in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.

And yet another key workshop coming up soon will focus on the “Development of Function Promoting Therapies: Public Health Need, Molecular Targets, and Drug Development.” NIA is already assembling an impressive roster of experts in the science of preventing age-related functional limitations. Slated for March 20-22, watch this space for more details or email us with questions.

Mapping the science of senescence

Throughout this year, NIA will continue to help expand the science of cellular senescence to inform healthy aging via the NIH Common Fund’s SenNet Consortium. This collaborative effort unites grantees to compile a three-dimensional map of senescence at single-cell resolution in multiple tissues. Last fall, NIH issued a total of 16 awards followed by three companion funding opportunity announcements to expand scientific translation in this area of research.

Stay tuned for more

Please stay connected with us or share something you’re looking forward to this year in a comment below. With deep respect and gratitude for your important work, all best to you for a happy, healthy 2022!

Comments

Submitted by Don-David Lusterman on January 05, 2022

I am a psychologist who will be 90 years young in September. Although I suffer from lung disease and Parkinson's, I lead an active physical and intellectual life. I believe that it is important to study older people who continue to live well despite the vicissitudes of age and illness.

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