Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Federal Agencies on Aging - Social Security Administration, Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services, National Institute On Aging, Employment And Training Administration - Administration on Aging

Federal Agencies on Aging - National Institute On Aging

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The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is one of twenty-five separate institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal federal organization sponsoring and conducting scientific research related to health, which in turn is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. For many years research on aging was centered within the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). However, those concerned with the particular medical, social, and behavioral problems associated with aging felt that NICHD's principal interests lay elsewhere, as did funding; only about 11 percent of the agency's budget was devoted to research on aging from 1962 to 1974 (Koff and Park). Delegates to the 1961 and 1971 White House conferences on aging pressed for a separate research entity within NIH. Despite the initial opposition of President Richard Nixon to creation of the NIA, he signed legislation authorizing its creation in May 1974.

NIA's missions are (a) to support and conduct high-quality research on aging processes, aging-related diseases, and special problems and needs of the aged; (b) to train and develop highly skilled research scientists; (c) to develop and maintain state-of-the art resources to accelerate research progress; and (d) to disseminate information and communicate with the public and interested groups on ongoing and needed health and research activities (www.nih.gov/nia/about/history).

Because aging-related research is relevant to and conducted by other institutes within NIH, it has been important for NIA to coordinate its activities with them. Put differently, NIA and NICHD are "population focused" (i.e., largely about older people and children, respectively). However, most of the other institutes in NIH are organized around particular diseases (e.g., National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) or specific organs (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases). Because all people can contract diseases and all people have bodily organs, there is inevitable overlap between institutes organized around population and around diseases and organs. Thus, NIA has coordinated its activities with other parts of NIH along the following lines, among others: (a) Alzheimer's and related diseases; (b) genetic and environmental bases for differences in the aging process; (c) impact of diet and exercise on health and functioning of older people; (d) means for preventing the need for long-term institutionalization; (e) research to improve the longevity of ethnic and racial minority populations; and (f) cross-cultural comparative studies concerning diverse populations (Koff and Park).

NIA sponsors research on aging through both extramural and intramural programs. The extramural program funds research and training at universities, hospitals, medical centers, and other public and private organizations. The intramural program conducts basic and clinical research in Baltimore and on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

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