By Dan Leveton
A groundbreaking research facility that will focus on aging studies has opened on the campus of UF Health Jacksonville, bringing another vital health resource to the region’s premier academic medical center.
The UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville cut the ribbon in May on the Jacksonville Aging Studies Center, also known
as JAX-ASCENT. The center will serve as a hub for behavioral, nutritional and pharmacologic clinical trials targeting older adults, particularly racial minorities and people of low socioeconomic status. Researchers will also study social determinants of health that contribute to chronic diseases and functional decline within those demographic groups.
“Opening a center as big as this in Northeast Florida is incredibly exciting for our organization because it will specifically focus on helping adults as they age,” said Tina Bottini, the assistant dean for research administration and compliance at the College of Medicine. “The research undertaken here will improve lives throughout the country, and we’re proud to be leading it.”
Organizers are using a five-year, $3.6 million award from the National Institutes of Health to develop the center, which is housed in the Professional Office Building at 1833 Boulevard St., Jacksonville. Space renovations began in December and wrapped up in March.
“JAX-ASCENT will create an integrative physical and intellectual environment in which trainees at all levels, and scientists from diverse disciplines, can interact and conduct clinical and behavioral translational research on aging and independence of older adults,” said Marco Pahor, M.D., a professor and founding chair of the department of aging and geriatric research at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “This is a wonderful opportunity that brings together research and the community.”
JAX-ASCENT wants to register 1,000 people each year. Registry members will receive information about the latest
research being conducted, and if they qualify, may be invited to take part in a variety of studies. There is no cost to
participate and compensation may be provided, as well as transportation to and from the center, if necessary. Adults
ages 60 and over are invited to join the registry that will help propel research.
“UF Health Jacksonville and the College of Medicine are dedicated to bringing new, groundbreaking research to this
community, and this center is a perfect example,” said Leon L. Haley, M.D., MHSA, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and
dean of the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
“When it opens its doors, it will truly be one of a kind in our region and will involve not only research teams but also
patients and volunteers from throughout our city.”
Bottini says older adults, racial minorities and people of low socioeconomic status have been underrepresented in
clinical research, making it more difficult to develop the best prevention and treatment approaches to assist them.
Administrators believe Jacksonville is an ideal location for such a center because of the high concentration of
residents who fall into those demographic groups.