Artificial Intelligence and Technology Collaboratories for Aging Research Coordinating Center
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
By 2034, 77 million Americans will be 65 or older, constituting the largest age demographic in the United States, outnumbering Americans under 18 for the first time ever. Moreover, about 1 in 9 of these individuals will develop Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias (AD/ADRD). To respond to this unprecedented challenge, NIA launched the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Collaboratories (AITC) for Aging Research program, which is dedicated to helping Americans live longer, better lives through applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies.
How RLA Moved Science Forward
In September 2021, RLA was awarded an NIA cooperative agreement (U24) to serve as the Coordinating Center of the AITC program, also known as the a2 Collective. As the a2 Collective Coordinating Center, RLA supports and harmonizes the work of three AITCs centered at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Pennsylvania. RLA began this work by facilitating the launch of the a2 Pilot Awards, a national competition that will award $40 million from 2021-2026 to promising pilot projects that leverage AI or technology to support healthy aging and persons living with AD/ADRD. To amplify the competition’s reach and draw applications from a wide range of innovators, RLA has established partnerships with more than 30 entities in the technology, venture capital, and nonprofit sectors; developed a website that includes competition resources, a blog covering AITC program activities, and profiles of funded projects; launched social media marketing campaigns; and presented at and hosted both online and in-person events to engage startups, researchers, funders, and the public.
In the first year, the a2 Collective funded 33 pilot projects leveraging technology to address cognitive decline. Together, these projects will receive a total of more than $6.7 million. Projects selected for funding receive up to $200,000 in direct costs provided as zero equity grants over a 1-year period, during which they also receive access to a2 Collective mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities. RLA’s work coordinating the a2 Collective’s activities advances NIA’s mission to support innovative research on aging, foster the development of aging researchers, provide research resources, and disseminate information about advances in aging research to varied audiences—including by collecting and reporting metrics related to the number of people helped by accelerated advances in AI and emerging technology.
- Develop and test grant application forms, train reviewers, monitor applicant progress, and manage awardee cohorts
- Maintain an active customer relationship management (CRM) platform for applicant, academic, industry, nonprofit, and government points of contact and resources
- Establish and refine standard operating procedures to harmonize activities across AITCs, best practices guidelines, conflict of interest policy for institutions and reviewers, a program-wide data and resource sharing plan, application and evaluation templates and examples, and a master calendar of events and activities
- Manage two platforms for data coordination and communication, adhering to project management a ITIL principles for data management
- Produce and disseminate curated content on websites, as well as regularly post news and reminders on social media platforms