Institute on Aging Awards $2.5M to Launch Collaborative Research Project

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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NIA collaborative network

A new National Institute on Aging (NIA)-funded collaborative project will bring together scientists from different disciplines to study a range of issues affecting older adults, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The Research Centers Collaborative Network (RCCN) will be funded with $2.5 million over year years by the NIA at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Wake Forest School of Medicine, with a subcontract to the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR).

The research network will promote interdisciplinary efforts in aging research with scientists from six NIA center programs.

Five strategies will be used to achieve this goal, including conferences, pilot programs, early career faculty education, web-based resource identification tools, and fundraising/proposal development.

The new RCCN will be established under a cooperative agreement with Wake Forest, which will be in charge of the network’s scientific projects and outreach to the aging research community.

AFAR will mainly be in charge of the administrative functioning of the research network, including grants and planning conferences and webinars.

Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD, principal investigator of the Wake Forest Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC), will serve as co-principal investigator for the RCCN, with Stephanie Lederman, AFAR’s executive director.

The six NIA programs in the RCCN include 83 individual centers and five coordinating centers, including the 31 Alzheimer’s Disease Core and Research Centers. The University of Washington serves as coordinating center for this program.

Researchers at these 31 centers across the country work to translate research advances into improved diagnoses and care for those with Alzheimer’s, as well as finding a way to cure and possibly prevent the disease.

For patients and families affected by Alzheimer’s, these centers offer help with obtaining diagnoses and medical management, information about the disease, services and resources, opportunities for volunteers to participate in clinical trials, patient registries, support groups, and other special programs for volunteers and their families.

“Each of these NIA centers brings important expertise and perspectives needed to address important problems facing an aging society,” Kritchevsky said in a press release.

“By creating networks across geographical and disciplinary boundaries to foster purposeful interaction across programs, the RCCN can enable scientists to realize synergies and insights to improve the health of older adults in unexpected and creative ways,” he said.

“We hope that the RCCN will serve as a catalyst for collaboration that will spark cross-disciplinary insights,” Basil Eldadah, an MD and PhD, and chief of geriatrics branch at the NIA. “As we more fully understand aging as an integrated process with physical, neurological, social, and behavioral aspects, it’s more important than ever that scientists across our research centers work together to find more effective ways to help Americans live healthier as they grow older.”

The additional five centers are the Centers on the Demography and Economics of Aging; the Nathan Shock Centers for Excellence in the Biology of Aging; the Older Americans Independence Centers; the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research; and the Roybal Centers for Translational Research on Aging.