A recurring question from readers after I post a new funding line blog post is: Does that line apply to my application? It usually does, bringing good news to those blessed with applications within that line. The normal caution applies—the line means that we expect to pay awards. Still, the funding line doesn’t apply to everything.
In mid-January, I attended the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This unique event—popularly referred to simply as Davos—connects international leaders in the private and public sectors—from government, business, and academia—to improve the global community. While “economics” is part of the meeting’s name, health, science, and technology were integral to the discussions.
Research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) is an important component of the NIA’s mission. In recent years, Congress has provided a significant amount of additional funding beyond our typical appropriation for us to accelerate research on the basic biology, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care related to this devastating group of diseases. With this additional funding comes the responsibility to plan and set priorities for the funds’ use.
Alzheimer’s drug discovery and development is not for the fainthearted. It’s extremely expensive and time-consuming, and the possibility of disappointment looms at every phase of discovery. According to one analysis, half of candidate therapies fail during preclinical research—the phase when important information on feasibility, testing, and drug safety is collected. And, if a promising therapy does advance to a clinical trial, another recent analysis indicates there’s a 98 percent failure rate during phase II and III, primarily due to lack of efficacy.
Small smiles of satisfaction spread around the staff in my office last week. The NIH Guide published the last of our long-running saga of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) on Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s-related dementias (ADRD). These were the concepts that the National Advisory Council on Aging approved last September (Thank you again, everyone!).
The mighty push for research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias continues at NIA. While an earlier blog highlighted the research initiatives we have published, this chapter covers the more recent publication of two training initiatives and four small business-related initiatives.
As most of you probably know, there has been a big influx of funds for Alzheimer’s disease research, with perhaps more to come. We recently issued several new Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) focused on Alzheimer’s. A burning question in the minds of many scientists is: Can a basic biologist not currently working on Alzheimer’s really expect to receive funds targeted towards Alzheimer’s research?
On October 11, 2016, the first manuscript describing a treasure trove of genomic data contributed by members of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD) Target Discovery and Preclinical Validation Consortium was published in Nature Scientific Data. The publication of the datasets and their description are part of an NIH-wide effort to bring together big data and experts from diverse disciplines to better understand dementia, as well as other chronic conditions.
I visited Cleveland over Thanksgiving. In a moment of peace from family conversations, I picked up the local paper. The first story I encountered was a long report on the Health and Retirement Study findings, funded by NIA, showing a substantial decline in U.S. dementia rates in the last 20 years. Then, I encountered a story reporting Eli Lilly’s negative clinical trial results on solanezumab. My immediate conclusion was that, no matter where I go, my job follows me!