Linda Hiddemen Barondess,
Executive Vice-President

Back in 2004, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) launched a series of research conferences focused on important but poorly understood age-associated health problems. Each of the three annual AGS-initiated, NIA-funded conferences explored problems that had been identified by clinicians working with older patients. Known as the “Bedside to Bench” conferences, the annual sessions covered topics of vital interest to all of us who care for older adults. The first two conferences, led by Drs. Linda Fried and G. Darryl Wieland, respectively, examined frailty and comorbidity—subjects that are particularly relevant to adults in long-term care. The third, headed by Dr. Howard Fillit, explored pathways to cognitive vitality. Each of the three “Bedside to Bench” sessions brought together researchers who both reviewed anecdotal and empirical findings to date and charted promising avenues for future study. Reports on each of the sessions—conceived and initiated by AGS’ Research Committee, under the leadership of Drs. Fried, Douglas Kiel, Mark Supiano—were published and are available online. (More below) “Bedside to Bench,” of course, is a play on “bench to bedside,” which refers to the way in which basic research informs clinical practice. Clinical observations also shape the research agenda, and the series aimed to promote further exchange by fostering basic research concerning the kind of age-related health problems we in long-term care see daily. Each of the three conference sessions concerned an area where further research has the potential to greatly improve prevention and treatment for older adults. So it’s good news indeed that the NIA recently renewed funding for the “Bedside to Bench” research conferences, with a $148,000 grant to cover a second series of three sessions. The first of the new 2 1/2-day sessions, slated for this September, will investigate whether cognitive, movement, and mood disorders in older adults have overlapping causal mechanisms that might inform clinical prevention and management. Dr. Stephanie Studenski, a member of the AGS Research Committee, will lead the program and is heading the new conference series. Planned for Fall 2008, the second session will explore idiopathic fatigue of aging, including potential mechanisms and implications for prevention and treatment. It will be led by Research Committee member Dr. George Taffet and Dr. Neil Alexander. The final session, slated for Fall 2009, will look at the interaction between inflammation and nutrient metabolism. Headed by Dr. Dennis Sullivan, it will, among other things, consider implications for developing effective interventions for older patients. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society will publish summary reports of each session, as it did with the previous series. Reports on the frailty session published in the online journal Science are now available at no cost via http://www.american geriatrics.org/research/confseries/summary.shtml. We hope you find these as illuminating as we have. Regards,

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