Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center

In September 1989, the University of Michigan established the nation's first Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. The overall goals of the U-M Pepper Center are to advance research on health care problems of the elderly and to train future academic leaders in geriatrics. Drawing on the large base of research currently underway in the fields of geriatrics and gerontology at the University of Michigan, the U-M Pepper Center fosters collaborative multidisciplinary research to integrate basic science, clinical science, and health services research relevant to the health care problems of older adults.

The specific goals of the U-M Pepper Center are:

  • To support research that will improve understanding of how metabolic factors and inflammation interact with age-related diseases and comorbidities to determine key health outcomes related to mobility and functional status.
  • To support translational research on the interaction of metabolic factors and inflammation with age-related diseases and comorbidities to improve health outcomes related to mobility and functional status.
  • To provide Resource Cores that support and assist investigator-initiated projects related to the UM Pepper Center’s research focus.
  • Through its Research Education Core (REC), to strengthen the UM environment for training of future academic leaders in geriatrics and aging who can conduct research related to the UM Pepper Center’s research focus.
  • Through its Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC), to attract UM junior faculty, as well as selected senior faculty not previously involved in aging research, to develop new research projects related to the UM Pepper Center’s research focus.

Cores

Biomechanics Core

The Biomechanics Core provides an array of techniques and equipment for the precise experimental quantification of physical functioning of healthy and frail elders in order to investigate attributes of the aging phenotype. It also supplies support for theoretical investigations in the form of computer simulation models to analyze the elements of those functional abilities and to establish the major determinants of abilities to perform motor acts in an effective manner. The Core is physically based in the Biomechanics Research Laboratory and the Mobility Research Center.

Physical disabilities are epidemic in the elderly. Whatever the underlying pathologies, these disabilities express themselves in biomechanical terms: reduced muscular strengths and rates of developing strengths, limited ranges and speeds of motion, reduced afferent feedback, inappropriate body segment coordination patterns, difficulty with balance and fall arrests, and even impaired pelvic floor and continence system function.

The Biomechanics Core will contribute to the development of academic leaders in geriatrics by helping interested faculty and their fellows to analyze a range of geriatric problems through biomechanical research techniques. Thus, it will train them through directed study involving background reviews, hypothesis generation, interdisciplinary pilot research projects, and data analysis and interpretation to examine issues adversely affecting the physical abilities of the elderly.

Core Director

James Ashton-Miller, PhD
Research Professor, Kinesiology
Associate Vice President for Research, Research Policy and Compliance
Albert Schultz Collegiate Research Professor and Distinguished Research Scientist, Biomedical Engineering
Research Professor, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
Research Professor, Internal Medicine

Core Co-Director

Neil Alexander, MD, MS
Ivan Duff M.D. Collegiate Professor of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Professor, Internal Medicine
Research Professor, Institute of Gerontology
Director, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System GRECC

Core Facility for Aged Rodents

The Core Facility for Aged Rodents, CFAR, has been a major feature of the University of Michigan Claude Pepper Center since its inception in 1989. CFAR serves the needs of Pepper Center investigators through four Specific Aims.

  • CFAR will provide advice to all OAIC investigators, from student through faculty levels, in the use of rodents for research into the biology of aging and its role in late life disease.
  • CFAR will support specialized colonies of mice particularly well suited for research on the biology of aging and its relationship to late-life disease. These include (a) genetically heterogeneous mice of the UM-HET3 stock; (b) calorically restricted UM-HET3 mice; and (c) mice of the long-lived Snell dwarf (dw/dw) stock, carrying the Pit1 dw mutation. Mice from these colonies will be provided to faculty members working on Pilot Studies Exploratory Core (PESC) and Research Career Development Core (RCDC) research projects, as well as to Geriatrics Center faculty members who wish to conduct pilot studies on mouse aging supported by other sources of NIA funds.
  • CFAR funds will support the development of new animal models for specific purposes. In the first year, these will include a new four-way cross suitable for studies of late-life hearing loss.

Core Director

Richard Miller, MD, PhD
CCMB Affiliated Faculty
Professor of Pathology
Associate Director for Research, Geriatrics Center
Director, Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research

Design, Data and Biostatistics Core

The Design, Data, and Biostatistics Core (DDBC) will provide technical support and training of investigators developing or performing intervention and other geriatric research projects examining the aging phenotype and outcomes research. It will also develop new instruments, methodologies, and data archives to enable future studies. Thus the DDBC will both address techniques for appropriate design and execution of current experiments and set the foundation for future research studies. Building on our experience with the UM Pepper Center, the DDBC will address the needs of OAIC investigators, and especially junior investigators, for assistance in the design of intervention experiments, and the collection, maintenance, analysis, and interpretation of their data.

Core Director

Andrzej Galecki, MD, PhD
Research Professor, Geriatric and Palliative Medicine

Core Co-Director

Julie Bynum, MD, MPH
Margaret Terpenning Collegiate Professor of Internal Medicine
Professor, Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Associate Director, Health Policy & Research, Geriatric Center
Research Scientist, Institute of Gerontology
Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs

Human Subjects and Assessment Core

The Human Subjects and Assessment Core (HSAC) supports activities involving human subjects at the University of Michigan Claude D. Pepper Center.  It has four specific aims:

  • HSAC will establish, maintain, and facilitate access to human subjects and related data sets.
  • HSAC will expand, promote and facilitate access to minority human subjects through collaborative linkages with the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology (WSU IoG).
  • HSAC aims to provide selected efficient physical health measures, which will complement our existing collection of self-reported health, health care utilization, and psychosocial measures in subject selection.
  • HSAC will provide training and consultation to investigators on issues related to (a) recruitment and retention of human subjects, and (b) measurement of quality of life and psychosocial factors closely linked with aging phenotype.

Core Director

Raymond Yung, MB, ChB
Interim Chair, Department of Internal Medicine
Jeffrey B. Halter MD Collegiate Professor of Geriatric Medicine
Director, Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology

Core Co-Director

Kenneth Langa, MD, PhD
Professor Internal Medicine, Gerontology, and Health Management and Policy
Research Investigator, Ann Arbor VA HSR&D
Faculty Associate, Institute for Social Research

Leadership & Administrative Core

A well-defined and effective Leadership/Administrative Core that supports the activities of the Claude D. Pepper OAIC is well established at the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center.

The administrative structure and the proposed advisory committees define, enhance, and require these interactions on a regular ongoing basis.

Community Advisory Board Members

Core Leaders

Raymond Yung, MB, ChB
Interim Chair, Department of Internal Medicine
Jeffrey B. Halter MD Collegiate Professor of Geriatric Medicine
Director, Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology

Lona Mody, MD, MSc
Interim Division Chief, Geriatric & Palliative Care Medicine
Amanda Sanford Hickey Professor of Internal Medicine
Director, UM Pepper Center Pilot & Exploratory Studies Core
Associate Director, Clinical and Translational Research, Geriatrics Center

Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC)

The goal of the Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core is to provide support for studies that will develop and test new research ideas of high relevance to the Center's overall theme:

“To improve understanding of how metabolic factors and inflammation interact with age-related diseases and comorbidities to determine key health outcomes related to mobility and functional status.”

The PESC will thus fund pilot research studies over a wide range of disciplines, ranging from basic genetics and physiology through behavioral and health services research.

Core Director

Lona Mody, MD, MSc
Amanda Sanford Hickey Professor of Internal Medicine
Associate Division Chief, Geriatric & Palliative Care Medicine
Director, UM Pepper Center Pilot & Exploratory Studies Core
Associate Director, Clinical and Translational Research, Geriatrics Center

Core Co-Director

Donovan Maust, MD, MS
Associate Professor, Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Co-Core Director, U-M Pepper Center Pilot & Exploratory Studies Core
Associate Director, Geriatric Psychiatry Program
Research Scientist, Ann Arbor VA Center for Clinical Management Research

Research Education Core (REC)

The REC is a component of the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, funded by the National Institute on Aging. The primary goal of the Research Education Core is to recruit, select, support, mentor, and train junior faculty to become independent investigators in aging-related research and academic leaders in geriatrics and gerontology within their respective disciplines. The REC focuses on stimulating the translation between basic and clinical research across the spectrum of its training activities, including the annual research education core retreat. To this end it serves a critical function in supporting the overall OAIC focus by training the next generation of investigators whose research will lead to an improved understanding of the predictors and modulators of the aging phenotype.

Core Director

Neil Alexander, MD, MS
Ivan Duff M.D. Collegiate Professor of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Professor, Internal Medicine
Research Professor, Institute of Gerontology
Director, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System GRECC

Core Co-Director

Lillian Min, MD, MSHS
Associate Professor, Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Ambulatory Care Clinical Chief, Geriatrics

Research Operating Committee