A retrospective analysis of the Whitehall II cohort study found that frequent social contact in midlife may reduce dementia risk. Data collected over 28 years reveal that adults who reported frequent social contact (regularly seeing friends and family) in middle age were less likely to receive a dementia diagnosis. The researchers also reported that this effect seemed stronger for participants who reported frequent interactions with friends than for those who reported social contact only with family members. The authors suggest that being socially engaged may require greater activity in areas of the brain that contribute to language and memory, which in turn may account for better cognitive health. This research, published in PLOS Medicine, was funded in part by the NIA.
Dr. Robin Barr, Director of the NIA Division of Extramural Activities, blogged about a recent change to the NIA’s review process for program projects. Beginning with the January 25, 2020 submission deadline, NIA will suspend the second-stage review. Second-stage review is not gone – it remains an option for NIA – but a new pattern of scoring in initial review panels suggests that the second stage may not be necessary. NIA also has a new funding announcement for program projects: some important changes include that NIA now allows these grants on all three submission deadlines of the year and has increased the amount allowable without preclearance.
The NIA has funded a major study to examine the overall health benefits and risk of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) in adults age 75 or older without cardiovascular disease. The trial, called Pragmatic Evaluation of Events and Benefits of Lipid-Lowering in Older Adults (PREVENTABLE), will help determine whether a statin can help prevent dementia and disability in this age group, as well as heart attacks and other cardiovascular-related deaths, while not increasing risks of adverse health outcomes. The investigators plan to enroll 20,000 participants who will be randomly assigned to take either the statin atorvastatin or a placebo daily for up to five years.
Drs. John Haaga, Director of the NIA Division of Behavioral and Social Research (DBSR), and John Phillips, Chief of the Population and Social Processes Branch within NIA DBSR, co-authored a blog on the new global initiative to spark low-cost health aging innovations. In collaboration with the National Academy of Medicine’s Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, the NIA has released a new funding opportunity to fund projects that improve functioning and quality of life for older adults living in low- and middle-income countries or the low-income, disabled, and isolated older adults living in high-income countries. The NIA is hopeful that this opportunity will encourage clever and reasonably priced solutions for healthy aging products, devices, or techniques that currently lack seed funding, and have a large and beneficial impact on older adults around the world.
Just a reminder that the Third Geroscience Summit: Targeting Chronic Diseases Through Geroscience will be taking place on November 4th & 5th on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD. It will be an opportunity to learn more about the growing field of geroscience, or the intersection of basic aging biology, chronic disease, and health. This event will also provide a forum for disease-focused professional societies and foundations to interact with the aging-biology community and geroscience researchers. Registration for in-person attendance is closed, but you can use the links below to view the videocast. We hope you will join us virtually if you’re not registered to attend in person!
Day 1, November 4 (https://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=34895)
Day 2, November 5 (https://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=34899)