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Research Areas

The National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) commitment to the systematic study of the aging brain began with its establishment in 1974, and its support of neuroscience research, including research on Alzheimer’s disease (AD), has increased dramatically since then. The NIA legislative mandate provides specific authority to support research on AD, establish AD research centers, conduct clinical trials for the treatment of AD, and promote research on the etiology, treatment, and diagnosis of AD.

Among the many age-related impairments that lead to institutional care, those related to changes in brain functioning have the most significant implications for public policy and priorities for further research. Changes in the brain, especially those that affect sensory, motor, sleep, cognitive, and emotional functioning, profoundly influence the quality of life of older individuals. Reduced functional capacity not only limits independence but also influences the attitudes of others toward the aging person, affects the individual’s self-image, and often determines the nature and quality of health-care services.

Through its investment in neuroscience research, NIA is committed to solving not only the problems of dementias of old age, but also to further understanding of the normally aging brain.

Within the NIA, the Division of Neuroscience (DN) fosters and supports extramural and collaborative research and training to further the understanding of neural and behavioral processes associated with the aging brain. An area of special emphasis is brain-behavior relationships. An important component of this Division is the support of basic, clinical, and epidemiological studies of AD and related dementias of aging.

The Division of Neuroscience is composed of three branches: Neurobiology of Aging, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience, and Dementias of Aging. Overall, the Division supports a broad spectrum of research aimed at elucidating how the central nervous system and behavior are affected by normal as well as pathological aging. An emerging focus is how the processes of aging and age-related cognitive decline intersect with the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias of aging. The basic theme throughout the Division is to understand the aging nervous system in order to foster the maintenance of health and improve the quality of life of the older population.

Eliezer Masliah, M.D.
Director, Division of Neuroscience

Bradley Wise, Ph.D.
Acting Deputy Director

Suzana Petanceska, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor for Strategic Development and Partnership

Jean Tiong-Koehler, Ph.D.
Program Analyst

Toni Salazar
Financial Analyst

Donna Weaver
Extramural Program Office Manager

Division of Neuroscience Branches