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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

September 2020

Aging and the environment explored through research partnership

NIEHS and the National Institute on Aging foster scientific collaboration through their Joint Fellowship Program.

NIEHS and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) have announced the 2020 NIEHS-NIA Joint Fellowship Program (JFP) grant winners. The funding opportunity supports dual research projects, with scientists from the institutes working together for two years. The financial support allows each team to hire a postdoctoral fellow to work exclusively with them.

hands connect gears like a puzzle In 2018, NIEHS principal investigators Douglas Bell, Ph.D., Guohong Cui, M.D., Ph.D., and Frederick Miller, M.D., Ph.D., received research support through JFP.

JFP began in 2018 with funding for three research efforts. “This highly competitive program is a great example of collaboration between two NIH [National Institutes of Health] institutes on different campuses,” said Darryl Zeldin, M.D., NIEHS scientific director.

Darryl C. Zeldin, M.D. Zeldin also heads the Environmental Cardiopulmonary Disease Group in the NIEHS Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

“Environmental exposures are important factors in the health of aging populations, and so supporting basic and applied research in this area is critical,” he noted.

Researchers join forces

This year’s winners are listed below (see sidebar for more information about their research).

“The award of two collaborative projects between the NIA and NIEHS intramural research programs is an important step in fostering collaboration between the two institutes,” said Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D., NIA scientific director.

“The success of the initiative clearly shows that the science of health is best served by the collaboration of scientists across a wide range of expertise,” Ferrucci added.

Stiff competition

Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D. Ferrucci is a geriatrician and an epidemiologist who conducts research on the causal pathways leading to progressive physical and cognitive decline in older persons. (Photo courtesy of NIA Intramural Research Program)

Applications were peer-reviewed, and reviewers were chosen by the scientific directors from each institute. Joel Abramowitz, Ph.D., special assistant to the NIEHS scientific director, oversees the initiative. He explained the requirements applicants needed to follow.

  • There should be one researcher from each institute.
  • The collaboration should be new.
  • The proposal should align with the mission of each institute.
  • The science should be of the highest quality.

Abramowitz pointed out that the awards allow the scientists to work on projects they would not normally have funding to carry out. “It makes for more collegial science because you are getting collaboration between investigators and between the two institutions,” he observed.

In addition to hiring a full-time postdoctoral researcher, winners receive funding for laboratory and travel expenses for two years. The scientists will meet periodically at each other’s laboratories once COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted. NIA’s research labs are located in Baltimore, Maryland.

(Ernie Hood is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)


Perry Blackshear, M.D., D.Phil. Blackshear heads the Post-Transcriptional Gene Expression Group and holds a secondary appointment in the NIEHS Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Chandra Jackson, Ph.D. Jackson is an Earl Stadtman Investigator in the NIEHS Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Equity Group. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
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