TRANS-NIH GEROSCIENCE INTEREST GROUP
Over the past 25 years, researchers have made impressive progress in understanding the genetics, biology and physiology of aging. The elderly comprise the fastest growing segment of our population, and aging itself is the largest single risk factor for most chronic diseases. As a result, a large proportion of health resources are used to treat the elderly, who are often affected by multiple diseases / conditions.
Basic research in animal models has demonstrated the plasticity of lifespan. Most importantly, it has shown that often, extension of lifespan is accompanied by a delay in the appearance and progression of morbidity, as well as a slowing in age-related functional decline. That is, slowing the aging processes leads to an increase in healthspan, the portion of life spent in good health. Yet many fundamental issues remain that need to be addressed and understood, not the least of which is translation research and application of these findings to the human population.
By developing a collaborative framework that includes several NIH Institutes with an interest in the biological mechanisms that drive the appearance of multiple diseases of the elderly, the Geroscience Interest Group (GIG) aims to accelerate and coordinate efforts to promote further discoveries on the common risks and mechanisms behind such diseases. By pooling resources and expertise, the GIG identifies major cross-cutting areas of research and proposes coordinated approaches to identify hurdles and envision solutions. To assist scientists interested in solving the health problems of our burgeoning elderly population, the GIG supports the development of new tools, models and paradigms that address the basic biological underpinnings of multiple diseases.
LOGISTICS AND GOALS
After a launching meeting held on October 25, 2011, the Trans NIH GIG will meet monthly. Participation in the GIG is voluntary as dictated by individuals’ and IC’s interests. The meetings will be coordinated by Dr. Felipe Sierra (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director of the Division of Aging Biology, NIA. It will gather 2-3 representatives from each interested IC.
The goals of the GIG are:
- To promote discussion, sharing of ideas and coordination of activities within the NIH, relating to the specific needs of the research community working on mechanisms underlying age-related changes, including those which could lead to increased disease susceptibility.
- To raise awareness, both within and outside the NIH, of the relevant role played by aging biology in the development of age-related processes and chronic disease. For this, the GIG will plan and fund seminars featuring both internal and external speakers, as well as symposia and workshops.
- To develop potential Public/Private partnerships through interactions with scientific societies, industry and other institutions with related interests.
- To develop trans-NIH initiatives (PAs, RFAs, Common Fund initiatives or other creative approaches that might present themselves), so as to encourage research on basic biology of aging and its relationship to earlier life events, exposures, and diseases that will advance the goals and vision of the GIG, and which complement and enhance the goals and vision of concerned ICs.