Aging with health
Institute on Aging receives grant to improve health of older Americans
By Czerne M. Reid
The UF Institute on Aging has been awarded a major grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging that is expected to total $5.2 million over five years. The award, in renewed support of the UF Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, will fund studies to better understand the biological and behavioral processes that lead to physical disability in older adults, and to develop and test disability prevention and rehabilitation therapies.
The new award comes on the heels of $3.9 million in NIH funding that established Florida’s first Pepper Center at UF in 2007.
“We are honored by this strong, continued support as we use scientific tools to tackle the issue of aging,” said principal investigator Marco Pahor, M.D., director of the UF Institute on Aging and chair of the department of aging and geriatric research in the UF College of Medicine. “Each grant and each resulting research finding brings us one step closer to providing older adults with the means to maintain their health, independence and dignity as they age.”
UF is one of just 15 institutions in the nation to receive the award, which is named for the late Claude D. Pepper, a U.S. senator-turned-representative from Florida. Pepper advocated for the rights of the elderly and championed laws aimed at improving the health and well being of older Americans.
Aging takes its toll in varied ways, affecting many different organs. It can show up as acute effects, such as hip fracture or stroke, or as chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, osteoarthritis or mental decline. But although aging reveals itself in so many ways, mounting research points to one main process — muscle loss — as having a hand in all those changes.
The work of the UF Pepper Center focuses on understanding age-related muscle loss from different perspectives, and the potential role of skeletal muscle as a key target for therapies to counteract age-related damage to the body. The center’s researchers work in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including molecular biology, gerontology, epidemiology and behavioral sciences.