We want you (to help expand the borders of geroscience)

Have you ever wanted to direct the agenda for aging research on a national scale—even influence the overall shape of the field? Well, now’s your chance: the NIH is asking for your help in setting priorities for the third Geroscience Summit.

As attentive readers will have inferred, there have been two previous Geroscience Summits. The first, entitled “Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Healthspan and Chronic Disease,” was held in 2013, sought to establish a framework for collaborative and interdisciplinary research aimed at understanding how aging contributes to chronic disease. Three years later, the second summit (“Disease Drivers of Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience“) took the opposite approach, focusing on understanding how chronic diseases influence the rate of aging.

Both of these summits emerged from the GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG), an coalition spanning 21 of the 27 institutes and centers of the NIH (i.e., not limited to the NIA). The GSIG’s main missiong is to promote research on the common mechanisms underlying chronic diseases associated with aging, as well as identify cross-disciplinary opportunities to improve the health of elderly people.

The third summit has the ambitious goal of expanding the umbrella of geroscience. In their words:

This time, our goal will be to engage professional societies, stakeholder groups, and researchers interested in specific chronic diseases and conditions of older people, and exchange ideas on the role of aging biology in these health problems.

How that is accomplished, however, remains to be determined—and that’s where we come in. The NIA has posted a request for information (RFI) seeking input from non-governmental stakeholder organizations—including researchers, disease and aging patient advocacy groups, professional societies, the broader scientific research community, and the general public (i.e., pretty much everyone) regarding:

  1. Recommendations for specific age-related chronic diseases/conditions that should be considered in the planning for a third NIH Geroscience Summit;

  2. Feedback on whether individual organizations may be interested in contributing input to the planning of such a Summit, and areas of interest for participation;

  3. Feedback on whether individual organizations may be interested in participating in a summit session that would encompass scientific presentations by public and private stakeholders about the links between specific chronic diseases and geroscience, as well as suggested subtopics for such a session; and

  4. Input on the potential impact of this type of session on future scientific needs and progress in regard to specific diseases affected by aging.

More details are in this article by Felipe Sierra, Scientific Executive at the NIA’s Division of Aging Biology (DAB).

The third summit will be held in spring of 2019. Registration details are not yet available, but the time to develop and share ideas has already begun.