Become Familiar with Clinical Research and Understand the Benefits of Participation—A Tool for the Public

Advances in treating and curing disease are made possible because of clinical research trials and the volunteers who participate in them.  NIA recently released an infographic to help individuals familiarize themselves with clinical research and to understand the benefits of participation.  Please share this infographic widely, including on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

NIA Efforts to Expand Opportunities in Entrepreneurship

On the InsideNIA Blog, Dr. Todd Haim, Chief of the Office of Small Business Research (OSBR), discussed NIA’s efforts to expand opportunities in entrepreneurship for everyone.  The NIA OBSR provides more than $100 million in set-aside funds to help entrepreneurs bring innovations in healthy aging to market through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  At present, the OBSR team is working to diversify the pool of NIA-supported entrepreneurs to include greater percentages of women and racial/ethnic minorities among SBIR/STTR awardees.  To assist with this effort, NIA relies upon the NIH Application Assistance Program (AAP), which helps new or previously unsuccessful SBIR/STTR candidates with the grant application process.  OBSR is currently seeking applicants for its second and third AAP cohorts.  Applications for the second cohort must be received by April 6th, 2020, and applications for the third cohort must be received by September 6th, 2020.  Please see OBSR’s SBIR/STTR factsheet for more information, including eligibility criteria.

Inflammation May Drive Development of Tau Tangles in Alzheimer’s Disease

Recent NIA-funded research has revealed that inflammation may drive the development of tau tangles in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Abnormal neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein are one of the hallmark features of AD, along with beta-amyloid plaques.  While amyloid plaques have been linked with inflammatory changes in AD, the relationship between inflammation and tau pathology has not been fully understood.  In a study published in Nature, researchers used a mouse model to evaluate what would happen to tau proteins when an inflammasome, or a complex of proteins known to trigger inflammatory cascades, was “knocked out,” or rendered inactive.  The results revealed that blocking the action of the inflammasome NLRP3 prevented tau aggregation and tangling, which, in turn, led to better memory performance in the transgenic knockout mice.  The study also suggested that amyloid deposition and tau pathology are linked by the action of the inflammasome.  Therapies which block the inflammasome could reduce tauopathies (which are hypothesized to follow beta-amyloid deposition) and limit subsequent AD symptomatology. 

Personality Traits in Early Life May Predict Dementia Risk 50 Years Later

A recent NIA-funded study has shown that personality traits in early life may predict dementia risk 50 years later.  The study used data from Project TALENT, the largest survey of U.S. high school students in existence.  Project TALENT began in 1960, surveying over 1,200 high schools and 377,000 students across the country.  The current study included approximately one quarter of the original respondents and sought to evaluate associations between personality traits in adolescence and dementia risk in later life.  Ten traits were assessed as part of the Project TALENT personality inventory; of these, vigor (reflecting vitality, energy, and physical activity) was associated with a decreased risk of dementia in later life.  Two additional traits, calmness and maturity, were associated with decreased dementia risk, although these associations appeared to be moderated by socioeconomic status.  These findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry, support prior research which has linked early life experiences to later life cognition and dementia risk.

Cleared concepts: Early notification for future funding possibilities

NIA Deputy Director, Dr. Marie Bernard discusses NIA atest collection of cleared concepts for funding opportunity announcements (FOAs).  NIA thinks of the cleared concepts as an early notification system that provides the research community with precious time to consider future applications and chart new directions for their labs or centers. Check out the latest blog from NIA