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PALS Study: Physical Performance Across the LifeSpan

The Physical Performance Across the Lifespan (PALS) Study is a collaboration between the Duke Pepper Center and the MURDOCK Study. Briefly, the PALS Study explores dimensions of health, function, behavior, and physiologic characteristics in a cohort of 1,000 adults aged 30-90+, with oversampling across the older decades. The PALS study includes a comprehensive assessment battery at two time-points: baseline and 2-year follow-up, which concluded in 2018.

The PALS Data Use Request Form streamlines requests for PALS data and facilitates communication between investigators and PALS/Pepper leadership. In addition to specifying what information is needed to make a request, a standardized description of the PALS cohort and publication-related details are provided.

[Data Request Form]

The PALS Data Dictionary is a reference for variable names, field types, and field descriptions for the current subsets of PALS data: Baseline questionnaire, Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test battery, Health Self-assessment questionnaire, Physical performance tests, Two-year follow-up questionnaire, Metabolomics assays, and Accelerometer-derived variables.

[PALS Data Dictionary]

The PALS Codebook is a comprehensive overview of PALS data and associated MURDOCK data, including statistical summaries and graphs. The Codebook also includes an abbreviated version of the PALS data dictionary.

NOTE: The PALS Codebook will be updated as new data become available. Always check the revision date on the Codebook title page to insure you have the most recent reference.

[PALS Codebook]

Physical Measures Core (PMC)

The Physical Measures Core serves as the central resource for Center investigators seeking advice, training, laboratory access, and equipment for valid, sensitive, and reliable measures. The Physical Measures Core provides highly integrated, customized support to investigators supported by our Research Education Component, Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core, Externally Funded Projects, and the larger Duke Community engaged by the Duke Older Americans Independence Center.

AIMS of the Physical Measures Core
  1. Expertise and Consultation: To provide centralized expertise available for consultation on the measurement of reserve and resilience
  2. Development and Standardization: To develop measurement protocols and train personnel in administration and data collection
  3. Innovation and Standardization: To identify gaps in resiliency measures and develop or adapt innovative new measurement approaches across the adult lifespan for related outcomes
NOW Open! Duke Pepper Center 2019 Health Innovations Technology Development Award RFA NOTE: NIH Biosketch due Jan 30, 2020/Decision March 2020/Funding received Summer 2020
Duke Pepper Center Health Innovations Award: The Physical Measures Core is partnering with the Duke Institute for Health Innovation (DIHI) to offer a small technology development grant for measurement of physical reserve and/or resilience in older adults. Development projects that propose new physical assessments of older adults’ physical reserve or resilience, or that aim to integrate existing assessments with digital health technologies are of great interest.

The duration of the pilot is limited to one year, but may be extended to a second year. The budget request is up to $10,000 per year in direct costs.

[Download Health Innovations Technology Development Award RFA]

CORE LEADERS
Miriam Morey, PhD
Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics

The general focus of my work is exercise and aging. A number of studies examine how system-wide impairments serve as preclinical indicators of disability and overall decline in the quality of life of older adults. Ongoing studies examine the role of exercise training in attenuation or reversal of functional decline and examination of the effectiveness of different methods of physical activity counseling for home-based exercise.

Katherine S. Hall, PhD
Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Duke Pepper Scholar, and Investigator in the Durham VA GRECC

My research is focused on developing evidence-based physical activity interventions for older adults with an eye to preserving functional independence and quality of life. I am particularly interested in developing exercise programs to promote physical and psychological well-being among older veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


CURRENT SUPPORTED PROJECTS

Emerging Discovery/Health Innovation Projects
Co-sponsored with the Duke Institute for Health Innovation

Sheng Luo, PhD (Biostatistics & Bioinformatics)
Accelerometer-based physical activity features and associations with physical function in older adults.

  1. The clinical utility of the information embedded in the rich times-series data captured by accelerometers has been greatly understudied among older adults. Novel approaches to analyzing these data suggest that microscale features of complexity (e.g., active and sedentary bouts) and fragmentation metrics (e.g., transitions between activity and sedentary states) may be linked with measures of health and functional status. We propose to examine the association between novel physical activity features such as complexity and fragmentation, and physical function in 961 participants enrolled in the PALS Longitudinal Cohort Study. Aim 1: Characterize physical activity features (e.g., total volume, time related features, fragmentation metrics, intradaily variability) derived from minute-level actigraphy data and examine the association with physical function at baseline. Aim 2: Explore predictive models of change in physical activity features and changes in physical function over 2 years. This study provides a novel clinical application for wearable accelerometers, and seeks to explore the potential for accelerometry as a non-invasive biomarker of physiologic reserve, aging, and functional health. [PALS Study Description]

Lisa Hobson-Webb, MD (Neurology)
Development of two new tools to measure muscle reserve and function in older adults using electrical impedance myography (EIM) and quantitative muscle ultrasound (QMUS)

  1. Validation of electrical impedance myography (EIM) and quantitative muscle ultrasound (QMUS) as reliable, valid markers of function and muscle mass will provide inexpensive and non-invasive biomarkers for studies in physical resilience and rehabilitation. EIM and QMUS provide direct information about muscle structure and integrity. These two promising technologies offer an inexpensive, non-invasive alternative to BodPod or DEXA methods. This study is mid-way through recruitment. Preliminary data suggest a high correlation of a simple-to-use bioelectrical impedance method with muscle ultrasound and muscle isokinetic testing to examine skeletal muscle quality and function, respectively. Importantly, there were also positive correlations between the bioelectrical impedance device and functional tasks. This is a promising inexpensive and non-invasive method to measure muscle quality and to indicate muscle function potential. [Journal Link]

Jaime Hughes, PhD (Population Health Sciences)
Smart technologies to monitor/modify sleep-activity behaviors in older adults

  1. Project Overview. Smart home technologies are increasingly being used to support older adults’ functional capacity and manage daily health behaviors. However, no existing technologies actively monitor or modify sleep-activity behaviors, thereby missing an opportunity to address these upstream determinants of functional decline during both times of health and recovery. The proposed work aims to develop and evaluate the feasibility of sensor-triggered ecological momentary assessment (EMA) diaries to monitor older adults’ sleep-activity behaviors.

Kevin Caves, ME (Medicine and Biomedical Engineering)
Integrating digital technology in the development of two new tools to measure mobility in older adults

  1. Project Overview. Aim 1: Develop a new activity monitoring device and analysis software to assess and analyze mobility in older adults in inpatient settings. Aim 2: Validate walking velocity measured by the Gaitbox, a compact digital device developed by Dr. Caves that automatically records, stores, and displays walking speed. This project is newly awarded and aims to respond to technology needs identified by Pepper investigators to advance the integration of technology in their work.

Marty Woldorff, PhD (Neuroscience and Neurobiology)
Assessing postoperative neurocognitive resilience in older adults using scalp EEG

  1. This project is testing the feasibility and usability of a LiveAmp EEG Amplifier device in the OR setting. Trajectories of neurocognitive resilience will be examined using resting-state 32-channel EEG collected preoperatively, intraoperatively, and postoperatively in older adults across three funded resiliency-related projects. This project is newly awarded and will enhance our ability to advance innovations in resiliency measurement.

Research Education Component
Nazema Siddiqui, MD Effects of aging and the urinary microbiome on recurrent urinary tract infections
Corey Simon, DPT, PhD Physical resilience to pain with activity influences among seniors
Tony Sung, MD High intensity interval training to improve pre- and peri-transplant function and outcomes

Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core
David Bartlett, PhD Exercise training to promote resilience in chronic lymphocytic leukemia in older patients by enhancing physical and immunological reserve
Mihai Podgoreanu, MD Metabolic modifiers and rehabilitation phenotypes in older adults subjected to extracorporeal support
Charity Oyedeji, MD Focused geriatric assessment and biomarkers to determine physiologic resilience in older adults with sickle cell disease


FACULTY RESOURCES

Pepper researchers have an extraordinary opportunity for collaboration across Medical Center and University departments. These affiliated faculty members currently conduct interdisciplinary research with the Physical Measures Core.


Miriam Morey, PhD
Epidemiology/Exercise Science

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Physical function: Performance-based and Self-report
Physical activity: Performance-based and Self-report
Services available
Portable telemetric oxygen uptake analyzer (Cosmed)
Activity tracking devices (SAM, Garmin)
Physical performance testing protocols & equipment


Katherine S. Hall, PhD
Exercise Psychology/Behavioral Medicine

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Accelerometry
Psycho-social measures of behavior change
Physical activity: Performance-based and Self-report
Services available
Physical activity/sedentary monitoring (Actigraph)
Activity tracker analytic software (ActiLife)
Physical performance testing protocols & equipment
Psychosocial assessments/Health behavior theories


Amy M. Pastva, PT, MA, PhD
Physical Therapy/Exercise Physiology/Cell-Molecular Physiology/Biology

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Translational science
Rodent models of disease, rodent exercise – young and aged mice
Cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness and function
Performance-based measures of physical status and function;
Rehabilitation and care transitions for medically complex patients
(acute, outpatient, home health)
Services available
Pulmonary function testing
Portable EKG
Physical status/Function (strength, mobility, cardiovascular, balance)/ Retraining equipment
Muscle physiology
Rodent: Treadmill exercise equipment


Avshalom Caspi, PhD
Psychologist/Neuroscientist

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Psychiatric genetics
Mental health and personality
Longitudinal trajectories of mental health and predictors
Services available
Psychosocial measures of stress resilience
Genotyping
Personality assessment
Life-course epidemiology


Cathleen Colón-Emeric, MD, MHS
Geriatrician

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Outcome measurement using administrative datasets and economic analyses
Measures of care delivery
Development of measures of reserve and resilience
Services available
Falls history/Falls risk assessments
Fall prevention strategies
Tele-technology


Deborah Gold, PhD
Sociologist

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Psychosocial factors; Quality of life
Osteoporosis; Chronic illness; Pain
Services available
Measurement of quality of life, pain, psychological well-being, health behavior theories, self-efficacy


Gerda Fillenbaum, PhD
Gerontologist

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Cognitive function; Neuropsychology measures
Health service use; Functional status
Services available
Measurement of functional status, comorbidity, quality of life, cognitive status, ADLs, depression


Heather E. Whitson, MD, MHS
Geriatrician

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Cognition
Sensorial assessments
Services available
Measurement of sensorial impairments (cognitive, visual, pain, balance)
Comorbidity assessments


Helen Hoenig, MD
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Performance-based measures of function using tele-technology
(gait, balance, motor coordination, ADLs)
GPS technology
Clinical measurement of physical, cognitive, I/ADLs
Services available
Functional retraining equipment
Tele-technology
Rehabilitation training equipment
Assistive technology/devices


Kevin Caves, BSME
Biomedical Engineer

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Assistive technology; Technology and design for people with disabilities; Rehabilitation engineering
GPS/Spatial assessments
Design and fabrication of clinical and research tools
Integration of micro controllers and sensors
Software specification and development
Services available
Fabrication facilities (build and prototype custom devices)
3D printers
Assistive technology/devices
Remote monitoring of activities/physical performance
Fabrication of mechanical and electronic devices
Creation of software


S. Nicole Hastings, MD
Geriatrician

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Cognition
Pharmacotherapy and comorbidity
Health service use
Services available
Assessment of healthcare utilization
Medication exposure/Prescribing practices


Terrie E. Moffitt, PhD
Psychologist/Neuroscientist

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Mental health and bio-behavioral risk factors
Longitudinal trajectories of mental health and predictors
Gene-environment interplay and psychological health
Services available
Behavioral genetics
Mental health epidemiology
Psychological assessments


William E. Kraus, MD
Cardiologist

Expertise and Access in assessment of:
Cardiopulmonary exercise testing
Metabolic testing (RMR; OGTT, IVGTT)
Anthropometry assessments
Muscle molecular physiology
Integrative physiology
Services available
Body composition (Bod Pod, DXA)
Exercise physiology testing: CPET and strength testing; 6 MW
Metabolic testing (RMR; OGTT; IVGTT; infusion studies)
Physical activity tracking devices (RT3, Actigraph)
Mobile Health devices
Skeletal muscle biopsies
Phlebotomy
Clinical coordinator time for exercise, drug interaction studies
CV physical exam and EKG


RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Belsky DW, Harrati A. To the freezers! Stored biospecimens from human randomized trials are an important new direction for studies of biological aging. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Jan 1;74(1):89-90. [Institutional access] [PubMed]

Whitson HE, Cohen HJ, Schmader KE, Morey MC, Kuchel G, Colon-Emeric CS. Physical Resilience: Not Simply the Opposite of Frailty. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Mar 25. [Institutional access] [PMC free article-Available 08/01/2019] [PubMed]

Belsky DW, Huffman KM, Pieper CF, Shalev I, Kraus WE. Change in the Rate of Biological Aging in Response to Caloric Restriction: CALERIE Biobank Analysis. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Dec 12;73(1):4-10. [Institutional access] [PubMed]

Hall KS, Cohen HJ, Pieper CF, Fillenbaum GG, Kraus WE, Huffman KM, Cornish MA, Shiloh A, Flynn C, Sloane R, Newby LK, Morey MC. Physical Performance Across the Adult Life Span: Correlates With Age and Physical Activity. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2017 Apr;72(4):572-578. [Institutional access] [PubMed]

Hall KS, Morey MC, Bosworth HB, Beckham JC, Pebole MM, Sloane R, Pieper CF. Pilot randomized controlled trial of exercise training for older veterans with PTSD. J Behav Med. 2019 Jul 1. [Institutional access] [PubMed]

Whitson HE, Duan-Porter W, Schmader KE, Morey MC, Cohen HJ, Colón-Emeric CS. “Physical Resilience in Older Adults: Systematic Review and Development of an Emerging Construct.” The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2016 Apr;71(4):489-95. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC)

To understand and optimize reserve and resilience

Pepper OAIC Meeting-2019-4 pix-4×3 format
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Duke Pepper Center 2019 Requests For Applications for Funding in Aging Research Studies NOTE: Submission deadlines vary, beginning Nov 1st! Check individual awards for details
The Duke Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) (NIA P30 AG028716-04) aims to enhance and support research in aging, as well as promote research career development in aging through its Core resources. To achieve this, the Duke OAIC is releasing 3 distinct RFAs: 1 sponsored by the Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core (PESC), 1 sponsored by the Research Education Component (REC), and 1 sponsored by the Physical Measures Core (PMC).
Submissions for more than one opportunity will be allowed from the same applicant. For example, you may wish to submit different project ideas of differing scope/purpose for consideration as a Health Innovation award and a Pilot Award.

  1. Duke Pepper Center Research Career Development Award: The goal of the Research Education Component is to promote the development of future research leaders who are conducting basic, translational, or clinical research within the focus area of physical resilience. The REC will award up to 3 career development awards, of 1-2 year duration, with funding beginning July 1, 2020. Funds are guaranteed for 1 year, and contingent on successful center renewal for the second.

    [Download Research Career Development Award RFA]

  2. Duke Pepper Center Pilot Studies Award: The objective of this solicitation is to seek the highest quality pilot studies in aging research from within Duke University Medical Center. The scope of the Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core includes, but is not limited to, feasibility studies (i.e., for interventions or other research methodology), development of new methodologies or technologies, analysis of existing data, and exploration of high risk but innovative ideas.

    [Download Pilot Studies Award RFA]

  3. Duke Pepper Center Health Innovations Award: The Physical Measures Core is partnering with the Duke Institute for Health Innovation (DIHI) to offer a small technology development grant for measurement of physical reserve and/or resilience in older adults. Development projects that propose new physical assessments of older adults’ physical reserve or resilience, or that aim to integrate existing assessments with digital health technologies are of great interest.

    [Download Health Innovations Technology Development Award RFA]

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

Materials (LOI, proposal) should be submitted via Duke’s MyResearchProposal online submission system.

  1. To submit materials, visit http://bit.ly/myresearchproposal, click on “Create New User” (or log in if you already have an account). Proposals must be submitted under the Principal Investigator’s name.
  2. A step-by-step user’s guide for applying via the MyResearchProposal software is available here.
  3. Enter Access Code PEPPER, then select the Duke Pepper Center Funding Opportunities 2020 funding opportunity and follow the instructions.
  4. For questions concerning MyResearchProposal passwords or system issues, please email myresearchproposal@duke.edu or call 919-668-4774.

Duke Pepper Center Offers Actigraphy Workshop to Assess Physical Activity in Older Adults Monday, November 4th 1:30pm-4:30pm Trent Semans CHE Room 4067
The Duke Pepper Center Physical Measures Core is pleased to announce a hands-on workshop that will illustrate the selection and definition of meaningful physical activity outcomes derived from accelerometry. This workshop is intended to provide a how-to for clinical researchers interested in using the Actigraph-TM- accelerometer, a specific brand of research-grade device, to assess physical activity.

[Register here]



The overall goal of the Duke Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (Duke OAIC) is to support research and training that improves the independence of older Americans. Our primary focus is understanding and optimizing reserve and resilience. Our approach is founded on the insight that independence in older adults is related to an individual’s ability to withstand or recover from functional decline following acute or chronic health stressors. Our overall strategy for the OAIC is to serve as a sustained resource to our investigators through a broad range of training and research studies; the goal will be to address knowledge gaps in our focus with an emphasis on translational and interdisciplinary research. We recruit and develop early stage investigators in aging research related to our focus and utilize the substantial strengths of the Duke academic and health system environment to advance our focus.

Our goals are accomplished through the synergistic activities of the Leadership and Administration Core (LAC), Research Education Component (REC), Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core (PESC), and 3 Resource Cores: Molecular Measures Core (MMC), Physical Measures Core (PMC), and Analysis Core (AC).

AIMS of the Duke Pepper Center
  1. To better understand and optimize reserve and resilience in older adults through an integrated research program.
  2. To develop and evaluate new methods that advance the study of reserve and resilience.
  3. To identify and develop the next generation of researchers who will become leaders in aging and geriatrics research related to the Duke OAIC focus.
  4. To support pilot studies through the PESC that acquire information needed to select or design successful, more definitive research studies related to the Duke OAIC focus.
Duke Pepper Center Physical Measures Core (PMC) Researcher, Amy Pastva, PT, MA, PhD, Named Assistant Director in Duke Health Center for Interprofessional Education and Care
Amy Pastva, PT, MA, PhD, has been named 1 of 4 Assistant Directors in the new Duke Health Center for Interprofessional Education and Care (aka IPEC Center). The ADs will work with the Center director, Mitch Heflin, the Advisory Committee, and their respective professions to continue the work of building the Center and its programs. Focus areas of the IPEC Center will include preclinical and clinical education, faculty development, evaluation and scholarship. Congratulations Amy!
Duke Pepper Researchers Part Of International Team To Find Association Between Slow Gait Speed At Age 45 And Measures of Accelerated Aging In Several Domains of Function
Terrie Moffitt, PhD, Harvey Cohen, MD, and Miriam Morey, PhD, were part of an international team that found slower gait speed at age 45 is associated with smaller brain volume, older facial appearance, and poorer physical function, in addition to other measures of aging. Data from 904 participants in the Dunedin Study, a longitudinal cohort survey in New Zealand, also show that those with poor neurocognitive functioning as early as age 3 years had slower gait in midlife.
Stephanie Studenski, MD, MPH, discusses research implications and directions for clinical interventions based on these findings.

[JAMA Open Access PDF]

[Studenski Commentary]

Data Integration Working Group (DIWG) Semi-monthly (2nd and 4th Thursdays) NOTE: NO meetings Oct 24th-Nov 28th
The Duke Pepper Data Integration Working Group meets the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. The DIWG is open to members of the Duke community and is a wonderful inlet for individuals who want to learn more about the resources and opportunities of the Duke Pepper Center.
When: Thursday Dec 12th, 9:30-11:00am
Where: Conference Room 3512 Blue Zone, Duke Clinics
Topic: Corey Simon discusses the results of his pilot study
Looking Ahead: Nov 14th: No meeting: GSA in Austin
Nov 28th: Thanksgiving
Charlotte Observer Article Features Duke Pepper Center Research in MURDOCK Study
The Charlotte Observer recently featured the Duke Pepper Center’s PALS (Physical Performance Across the Life-Span) study in an in-depth article about the broader MURDOCK Study and the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC. A video accompanying the article illustrates some of the physical skills tests for participants and features a 97-year old woman who did 11 sit-to-stands in 30 seconds!

[Read more]

Pilot Study Of Exercise Training For Older Vets with PTSD Shows Clinical Improvement Following Supervised Group-Based Exercise In New Findings By Duke Pepper Research Team
Katherine S. Hall, PhD, and her colleagues published the results of the Warrior Wellness Study, a randomized controlled exercise trial for older veterans with PTSD. Clinically significant improvements in PTSD and related conditions were observed following exercise. This group-based exercise program could be expanded and implemented into clinical practice to improve post-traumatic resilience and achieve physical and psychological outcomes in older veterans.

[PubMed]

[Institutional access]

New York Times Features Duke Pepper Center Researchers and 10-Year Legacy Effects of Exercise on Cardio-Metabolic Health Parameters
Duke Pepper researchers William Kraus, MD and Kim Huffman, MD, PhD, from the Molecular Measures Core, are among the authors of a study that looked at the legacy effects of exercise training interventions in participants from the STRRIDE (Studies Targeting Risk Reduction Interventions through Defined Exercise) protocol. Their research appears in the April issue of Frontiers of Physiology and was recently featured in the New York Times. Researchers found that vigorous intensity groups experienced less of a decrement in cardiorespiratory fitness than control or moderate intensity groups, and moderate intensity group members experienced the greatest 10-year reduction in fasting insulin and had greater reductions in mean arterial pressure. Their findings highlight the critical need to better understand the sustained legacy health effects of exercise training interventions.

[NY Times Article link]

[Frontiers in Physiology Article link]

[OVID link to original STRRIDE protocol]

Meaningful Change Estimates for the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument (LLFDI) in Older Adults: An Exploratory Study
A team of university and VA GRECC researchers performed a secondary analysis of the Boston Rehabilitative Impairment Study of the Elderly (RISE) in order to estimate the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) of the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument-Function Component (LLFDI-FC) and its subscales among community-dwelling older adults with mobility limitations. The LLFDI-FC is a patient-reported measure of function. The MCID for each LLFDI-FC scale over 1 year of follow-up was estimated by a variety of methods. These estimates can assist clinicians and researchers of functional disability in the elderly.

[Journal link]

Duke Pepper Center Researchers Investigate Quantitative Muscle Ultrasound (QMUS) as an Alternative Reliable, Inexpensive Method to Measure Muscle Health
Muscle health is recognized for its critical role in the functionality and well-being of older adults. Duke Pepper researchers Lisa Hobson-Webb, MD and Amy M. Pastva, PT, PhD, along with the director of the Michael W. Krzyzewski Human Performance Lab, Timothy Sell, PT, PhD, examined the reliability of quantitative muscle ultrasound (QMUS), standard electrical impedance myography (sEIM), and handheld electrical impedance myography (hEIM) measures of anterior thigh musculature in the December 2018 Special Issue of Geriatrics: Geriatric Assessment: Multidimensional, Multidisciplinary and Comprehensive. Multiple correlations with measures of strength and body composition were noted for each method. These point-of-care technologies may provide an alternative means of measuring health compared with more expensive traditional scan technologies.

[Journal link]

Duke Pepper Center Researcher Stresses the Importance of Stored Biospecimen Research As Complementary Investigative Path With Long-Term Clinical Trials on Human Healthspan
Duke Pepper researcher Daniel Belsky, PhD and Amal Harrati, PhD, a Stanford researcher, discuss the relevance of biospecimen research in their article, To the freezers! Stored biospecimens from human randomized trials are an important new direction for studies of biological aging, in the January 2019 issue of The Journals of Gerontology, Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences. Clinical trials testing effects on healthspan-relevant endpoints, like age-at-onset of chronic disease or disability, require many years or even decades of follow-up. While the field awaits a new generation of human trials of geroprotective therapies, analysis of stored biospecimens from now-completed studies can help test candidate surrogate endpoints in briefer research timeframes.

[Article link]

Duke Pepper Center Researchers Find Correlation Between Physical Activity and Physical Function in Persons 50 and Older Living With HIV/AIDS
Researchers from the Duke Pepper Center and the Duke Center for AIDS Research found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with better physical function in an older population of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS. This is believed to be the first study to examine these variables in this cohort. The researchers recommend that providers promote physical activity to improve physical performance in this population.

[Read more]

Duke Pepper Center Molecular Measures Core Co-Leader Receives Honorary Doctorate
Virginia Kraus, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, was awarded an honorary doctorate of the Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Tampere in Finland in August 2018. Dr Kraus also received a special hat and sword to protect the truth of science.
A rheumatologist, Dr Kraus leads large-scale research projects that are investigating the mechanisms of osteoarthritis, predicting the progression of the disease, and drug responses. Her research focuses on the early treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) before serious damage occurs.
Dr Kraus was also recognized for her mentorship to the next generation of researchers. She knows a few words in Finnish as a result of spending time in Finland as an exchange student.

[Read more]

Duke Pepper Center Researchers Investigate Relationships of SES and Physical Functioning
Duke Pepper researchers, led by Grace Noppert, PhD, examined associations between multiple early and late life SES indicators with physical function. The research team discovered higher participant education and household income were associated with increased physical function. In an age-stratified analysis, SES disparities widened with increasing age among those in the two younger strata: lower SES was associated with worse physical function. Their findings highlight the significance of considering multiple dimensions of the social environment as important correlates of physical functioning over the life course.

[Article link]

Duke Pepper Center Researcher Receives K23 Funding
Richard Lee, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition, and a former Duke Pepper Center Scholar, received an award (1K23-AG058797-01) from the National Institutes of Health for a project entitled “Metabolomic & Radiographic Markers of Fracture Risk among Older Adults with Diabetes.” Total funding, announced in April 2018, will be $541,667.
Duke Pepper Center hosts Spring 2018 workshop: Physical Function Assessment in Older Adults
The Duke Pepper Physical Measures Core hosted a half-day workshop in May which highlighted functional assessments that can be utilized across the continuum of functional ability and implemented across a variety of settings (e.g., resource-rich vs. resource-limited, outpatient vs. inpatient). Participants came from several departments within the School of Medicine and the Health System to gain more knowledge and practical expertise in the implementation of performance-based measures of physical function in research.