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Developing an NIA Research Centers Collaborative Network (RCCN)

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Project Summary/Abstract The problems associated with an aging society transcend the boundaries of any specific discipline and play out across multiple biologic and societal domains ranging from individual cells, to organs and organ systems, to persons, to communities, to national and world economies. The six National Institute on Aging center programs address important topics in aging but typically they do this from a specific disciplinary perspective, and there is currently no mechanism to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations. This proposed U24 Research Centers Coordinating Network (RCCN) is led by the American Federation for Aging Research and the Wake Forest School of Medicine. It will initiate new cross-disciplinary collaborative networks bringing together key thought leaders from each of the 6 NIA center programs. The U24 will implement 5 complementary and synergistic strategies to: 1) identify intellectual opportunities that are best advanced by inter-center collaboration; 2) stimulate the development of cross- center collaborations; 3) provide new opportunities for early career faculty to interact across the center programs to expand their multidisciplinary collaborative network; and 4) leverage the RCCN activities to bring additional resources to multidisciplinary aging research. To achieve these goals, we propose five specific aims: 1. Convene RCCN steering, executive, and coordinating center committees to set the program's overall direction, organize and deliver program activities, and facilitate information dissemination; 2. Stimulate cross-center collaboration through 5 conferences on cross-cutting scientific themes each relevant to at least 4 of the 6 centers programs and inter-center pilot grants targeting identified research priorities. Proceedings will be disseminated for the benefit of the larger aging research community and the public. Pilots tied to the conference series will provide seed money to build new inter-center research partnerships; 3. Provide educational activities for early-career faculty to build competencies in multidisciplinary and cross-institutional research, including educational sessions at each conference and a webinar series focusing on key conceptual issues and methodologies to foster the development of a new cohort of scholars trained for multidisciplinary investigation; 4. Work with existing NIA center coordinating centers to disseminate RCCN activities and develop methods to facilitate the identification of faculty/resources across all centers programs. The RCCN will establish a new website on behalf of the Roybal program; and 5. Use the RCCN to foster the development of applications to foundations, the CTSA program or other potential sponsors with interests aligned with the NIA's broader mission.
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