Much of what we know about aging is discovered first in a laboratory, and then tested in clinical studies. For instance, theories about Alzheimer’s disease that are embraced by the nation’s leading scientists were first developed in a laboratory setting. Most experts agree that without excellent research and development, we would lag behind in the type of progressive thinking that is necessary to fully understand the aging process. Further, without sound research and development, we would be at a loss when it comes to effectively coping with the many issues associated with aging.
It is against this backdrop that some people are growing concerned about budget cuts that may come to the National Institute on Aging, the nation’s primary source of grant funding for aging research. A recent story in the New York Times reported that 2012 might bring significant cuts to the NIA, which could drastically impact the organization’s ability to conduct thorough research on issues relating to aging. And while this might not seem like anything to lose sleep over, it is actually quite astounding just how many research projects that the NIA supports.
The most cutting edge aging research has actually revealed ways in which the aging process can be reversed in mice. And while we are yet to see this replicated in humans, aging research continues to demonstrate the tremendous benefits that diet, exercise, and physical activity brings to seniors. And, of course, without diligent and thorough research we would never get any closer to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
While we should not expect to see aging research come to a screeching halt any time soon, budget cuts could very well slow some of this research down. The director of the NIA expressed concern in the New York Times article that budget cuts could ultimately discourage innovation and new discoveries. The director also worries that without funding, new scientists would have little incentive to enter the field. Gratefully, however, we have thus far pushed forward with aging research, and have made many discoveries along the way.