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Office of Special Populations update: Online disparities research framework and other news

The NIA recently created an online version of our Health Disparities Research Framework to showcase priorities and investments in this important aging research area. We hope that this site will serve as a resource for scientists interested in investigating health disparities related to aging. Please visit the page and take a look at the Framework’s interactive format.

NIA sponsors regional meeting to engage investigators new to aging research

On October 20, several NIA senior staff will travel to Atlanta for the NIA Director's Regional Meeting in Aging Research at Morehouse School of Medicine. They will describe current funding opportunities available for researchers who may be new to the field of aging research. I recently sat down with NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes to discuss the upcoming meeting.

NIA primes the pump for health disparities research in aging

If you are interested in health disparities and aging research, the NIA is ready, willing and able to help be a resource for you and the field. In recent months, we have undertaken several activities to enhance research opportunities, and I’d like to tell you about a few of these to keep you involved and make sure you’re up to speed!

A unique resource for women of color

When I began graduate school in 1999, I knew right away that my experience would be different from that of my peers: I am a female scientist of color, and when I looked for others that looked like me, I saw only a few. Naturally, I wondered why this was the case and whether anything could be done to change the situation. While I understood the complexities of this issue, I believed that something could be done, and fortunately when I arrived at NIH, I found ready agreement among my colleagues.

Apply now, find out more about the Butler-Williams Scholars training program

The Butler-Williams Scholars Program provides unique opportunities for junior faculty and researchers who are new to the field of aging to gain insight about research on aging from a number of perspectives. I invite you, if you are one of those researchers, to apply to the program. This year’s Butler-Williams Scholars Program takes place on July 25-29 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The application deadline is March 25.

Oldies but goodies from 2015

The big news of 2016 so far is the increase in the NIA budget. We’re very excited about the many opportunities in aging research that will be possible because of these extra funds. As we flesh out new funding opportunities and wait for applications in response to existing announcements, we thought we would reprise a few interesting posts from the last few months in case you missed them. If you missed a few, now is your chance to catch up.

Aging Biology and Health Disparities Research: Team Science for Pathways to Discovery

On July 8, 2015, NIA’s Office of Special Populations released PA-15-293, “Aging Research to Address Health Disparities.“ It seeks to support aging research that addresses disparities in health, including preclinical, clinical, social, and behavioral studies. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the Division of Aging Biology (DAB) to discuss some opportunities for involving basic researchers in health disparities research.

Opportunities for new investigators

This year’s Butler-Williams Scholars Program will take place next week on the NIH campus. Recently, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes described to the Friends of the NIA why it’s so important to encourage new and early-stage investigators’ interests in aging research and explained some of the opportunities that we are providing new investigators.

Making community connections is key for recruitment

If you’re struggling to recruit enough participants for your study, you are not alone. When time, staff, and other recruitment resources are limited, this can be a tough problem. How can you get a diverse group of study participants through your doors? One answer is likely right in your own backyard: connecting with local organizations who are already working with older adults in racially and economically diverse communities. Volunteers may spread information about your study on your behalf. Get involved and explain what you are doing and why. Then ask for their help.

Balance in grant peer review: recruiting reviewers from diverse backgrounds

I am a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) and currently lead the NIA-N Review committee. I’m constantly recruiting grant application reviewers: I mean, All The Time! During the course of each year, I also run a multitude of meetings to review grants responding to Requests for Applications, Program Project Grants (PPG), and Institutional/Individual Training Grant opportunities. It’s a good thing that I don’t take rejection personally, because more than half of the reviewers I try to recruit say, “NO,” and about a quarter of them just don’t answer my emails. One time I asked 89 people to review a PPG and only 14 of them said yes.

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