Advancing the Health of an Aging Population: Friends of the NIA (FoNIA) Briefing 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 12.31.50 PMOn Friday, July 7, 2017, Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA) hosted its annual briefing on ‘Advancing the Health of an Aging Population.’ These briefings provide important updates on the groundbreaking research that is supported by the NIA to promote the health and well-being of older adults. While registration for this meeting is open to the public, it is most heavily attended by representatives of other aging-related organizations, advocacy groups, and staff of Senators and House Representatives.

In addition to a lecture by NIA Director, Richard J. Hodes, MD, and Deputy Director, Marie A. Bernard, MD, this year also featured a presentation by Penn Medicine’s David J. Irwin, MD, MSTR, assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and clinical neurologist at the Penn FTD Center. Dr. Irwin’s presentation titled “Bringing the microscope to clinic: improving the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders” discussed some of the current challenges of diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions and how researchers at Penn and beyond are working to overcome these challenges through a variety of studies. Dr. Irwin also stressed the vital role that NIA and other institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) play in making this research possible.

 “As a junior investigator, this has been a very exciting time for me to start my career with a rapid advance in our understanding of the genetics and pathophysiology of AD and related conditions – these advances would not be possible without publicly-funded programs through the NIA, NINDS and other institutes at NIH,” said Dr. Irwin. “I am very enthusiastic and thankful to have the opportunity to help advocate for the mission of the NIA, as this directly leads to the improvement in the care of patients I treat with AD and related disorders.”

Full presentation slides:

Kathy Jedrziewski, PhD, Deputy Director of the Institute on Aging, is the current Chair of Friends of the NIA (FoNIA). For more information on FoNIA, click here

Full 2017 FoNIA Briefing Flyer

Eliezer Masliah, MD, Director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience visits Penn

EliezerMasliah_Flyer5217On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, Eliezer Masliah, MD*, Director of the National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) Division of Neuroscience, paid a visit to the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute on Aging (IOA), Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), and Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC).

The reason for Dr. Masliah’s visit was not just to learn about the neurodegenerative disease and aging-related research that is taking place in these centers here at Penn, but also to see how they all collaborate and work toward mutual goals. This gave him the opportunity to see firsthand how NIA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding is being used and made worthwhile to support the groundbreaking work of these centers.

Several topics were covered during the visit including the inception and mission of the new Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC), directed by Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, and its five NIH-funded projects, the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC), Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), Consortium for Alzheimer’s Sequence Analysis (CASA), Center for Genetics and Genomics of Alzheimer’s Disease (CGAD), and the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS). Dr. Schellenberg and other PNGC members, including co-director Li-San Wang, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and principal investigator of NIAGADS, presented some of the current work and future plans for PNGC to achieve their overarching goal to “completely resolve the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease.”

After the morning session, Dr. Masliah joined John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, Director of the IOA, and Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, Director of CNDR, with several of their lab members as well as several Penn faculty working in neurodegeneration, for an open discussion on the multidisciplinary approach of the IOA and CNDR. A key feature of these centers is their ability to collaborate across many different disciplines within the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. This includes faculty members from several different departments such as Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, and Epidemiology to name a few.

Among the many topics discussed, one that was of particular interest to Dr. Masliah was the large number of young investigators and finding out what it was that attracted them to Penn. Many of the lab members were eager to participate and to share their outlook on why Penn was the right place to start their research career. Overall, they agreed that the collaborative, multidisciplinary nature of these centers is what appealed to them most. They also praised Penn for its training and the encouraging environment that it provides for applying for research grants and other funding opportunities. Additionally, Penn is well known for its state of the art databases and data sharing, providing top-notch integration and access to resources for its investigators. Dr. Masliah was especially impressed with CNDR’s Integrative Neurodegenerative Disease Database (INDD) which tracks nearly 17,000 patients and/or research subjects at Penn’s several neurodegenerative disease related centers.

The visit concluded with a lecture by Dr. Masliah, titled “Advancing the National Plan to Address AD through National and International Collaborations.” During his talk, Dr. Masliah discussed the recent $2 billion NIH budget increase which includes $400 million new Alzheimer’s disease funds, new NINDS funding opportunities in partnership with NIA on Lewy body dementia (LDB), and the 17 new Alzheimer’s disease FOA’s.

In terms of what to expect for the future, Dr. Masliah says to stay tuned for changes in pay-lines for FY17, more funding for fellowship and K awards, and more funded FOA’s and 27 new FOA’s.


* In his position as the Director of the NIA’s Division of Neuroscience, Dr. Masliah oversees the world’s largest research program on Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias and cognitive aging. He is an internationally renowned neuroscientist and neuropathologist and has approximately 800 original research articles and 70 book chapters. 

Friends of the National Institute on Aging (NIA)’s Annual Update on NIA Scientific Advances

Earlier this month, the Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA) participated in their annual NIA Scientific Advances Update to discuss the progress of ongoing and upcoming research projects in the field of aging. Topics include the basic biology of aging, neuroscience, behavioral and social research, and geriatrics and clinical gerontology. Richard J. Hodes, MD, Director of NIA, presented this year’s updates (slides provided below) and joined in the open discussion with FoNIA members and leadership from each NIA division. NIA Deputy Director, Marie A. Bernard, MD, was also in attendance.

“These meetings are a really great opportunity for us to hear about the latest advances in
aging research across the board and to discuss future initiatives with NIA leadership,”
explained Kathy Jedrziewski, PhD, Chair of FoNIA and Deputy Director of Penn’s
Institute on Aging.

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The group will meet again early next year to discuss the NIA budget. In addition, FoNIA meets annually with National Institutes of Health Director, Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They also host an annual educational briefing on the Hill.

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Richard Hodes, MD, Director of NIA (left), Francis Collins, MD, PhS, Director of NIH (center), and Marie A. Bernard, MD, Deputy Director of NIA (right), with members of FoNIA at their last meeting.

For more information, visit: http://www.friendsofnia.org

FoNIA is a broad-based coalition of aging, disease, research, and patient groups that supports the mission of the NIA. FoNIA activities include advocating on behalf of the NIA and increasing public awareness about NIA’s work and its tremendous impact in the field of aging research. 

 

Stopping Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: Advancing our Nation’s Research Agenda — The FY 2018 Bypass Budget

The FY 2018 Bypass Budget, also known as the professional judgment budget, was released last month, estimating that an increase of close to $414 million will be needed to meet the research goals of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the bypass budget “includes a set of targeted milestones and an estimate of the additional investment needed in fiscal year (FY) 2018, above the base for Alzheimer’s and related dementias (ADRD) in the President’s FY 2017 budget to help NIH—and the Nation—move forward to end the devastation of dementia.”

The proposal touches upon several areas of the ADRD plan including Diagnosis, Assessment, and Disease Monitoring, Care and Caregiver Support, Translational Research and Clinical Intervention, and Research Resources. Among the Research Resources, it highlights the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS),* a web-based warehouse for AD genetics that is stationed at the University of Pennsylvania and led by Li-San Wang, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

NIAGADS collaborates closely with the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC), led by Principal Investigator Gerard Schellenberg, PhD. Both projects play important roles in the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), a presidential initiative under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act to identify genomic variants associated with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD).

The bypass budget also highlights recent basic, translational, and clinical research as well as studies focused on improving the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of Alzheimer’s and related dementias, all of which are supported by the NIH.

To review the full proposal, click here.

* New NIAGADS website coming soon

Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) Receives $8.8 Million Renewal

It was announced today that the University of Pennsylvania’s Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) has officially been awarded a five year, $8.8 million renewal from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue investigating the progression, diagnostics, treatments, and strategies of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“We are hopeful our support for the Penn ADC research program will lead to novel findings on the basic mechanisms involved in these diseases, and innovative new programs aimed at improving the lives of those living with dementia and their caregivers,” explained Nina Silverberg, PhD, an Alzheimer’s Disease Centers program director at NIA, in the Penn Medicine announcement.

The Penn ADCC has a history of groundbreaking discoveries, including identifying the protein tau as the building block of neurofibrillary tangles, as well as the role of alpha-synuclein in forming the Lewy bodies that are found in Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia, and 50% of Alzheimer’s cases.

Learn more about the Penn ADCC in the video* below:

Read the full Penn Medicine Announcement here.

Visit the Penn ADCC website here.

* Steven Arnold, MD is no longer at the University of Pennsylvania. David A. Wolk, MD is now the Clinical Core leader for the Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC).

 

Advancing the Health of An Aging Population: Groundbreaking research supported by the NIA

On Thursday, June 30, 2016, the Institute on Aging (IOA), in collaboration with Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA), hosted an educational briefing on “Advancing the health of an aging population: Groundbreaking research supported by the NIA.”

The briefing, which took place at the Capitol Visitor’s Center in Washington, D.C., is an annual FoNIA event bringing together researchers, legislators, advocates, and others to hear about the latest updates in the field of aging research. This year’s presenters included NIA director, Richard Hodes, MD, and deputy director, Marie A. Bernard, MD, Corey T. McMillan, PhD, research assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Peter M. Abadir, MD, assistant professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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“We were delighted to see a standing room only crowd at our annual Friends of the NIA educational briefing on the Hill,” said Kathryn Jedrziewski, PhD, director of the IOA and chair of FoNIA. “It was gratifying to hear about so much progress being made in aging-related research, especially in the area of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders.”

Presentations:

FoNIA is a broad-based coalition of aging, disease, research, and patient groups that supports the mission of the NIA.

Penn Medicine Researchers and Collaborators Receive Nearly $11 Million NIH Grant to Launch a New Genomics Center on Alzheimer’s disease

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.36.40 PMPenn Medicine’s Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Li-San Wang, PhD, an associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, along with investigators from Boston University, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, the University of Miami, and the University of Indiana have been awarded a $10.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to launch their joint Coordinating Center for Genetics and Genomics of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is an exciting opportunity to apply new technologies to improve our understanding of the biological pathways underlying this devastating disease,” said Dr. Schellenberg, quoted in a Penn Medicine News Release. “The new center will stimulate collaborations between hundreds of U.S. and international Alzheimer’s genetics researchers by aggregating and analyzing very large data sets and sharing the results. This type of global interaction is needed if we are to make progress in solving this devastating illness.”

Drs. Schellenberg and Wang are no strangers to the genetics and genomics of Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases. This new grant is just one of the projects in their recently introduced Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC) which they co-direct. Other projects include the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC), Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), Consortium for Alzheimer’s Sequence Analysis (CASA), and NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS).

Read more:
Full Penn Medicine News Release
Feature in the Philadelphia Business Journal