The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging has received $5.5 million for a new research center whose work will improve standards of care for the elderly.
The five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging establishes the Arkansas Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) at UAMS, one of 12 such centers in the United States.
The center’s mission is to find ways to better maintain or restore independence to older persons by:
- Studying the cause of declining skeletal muscle function and heart performance as people grow older and translate those findings to improve nutritional recommendations and standards of care
- Introducing state-of-the-art research methods for studying protein metabolism to better enable basic molecular-based studies that result in clinical trials aimed at improving the health of aging Arkansans
- Using novel interventions in the prevention and treatment of heart and skeletal muscle weakness
- Promoting aging research by young scientists and training new geriatricians and gerontologists to improve functional independence of older Arkansans through targeted therapeutic interventions
“Our research will broaden the understanding of weakness of the cardiac and skeletal muscles that occurs as a result of aging or age-related diseases,” said Jeanne Y. Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging, who has more than 30 years experience conducting gerontological research. “It will help us design methods to prevent and treat this weakness with nutrient supplementation, therapeutic nutrition and other interventions.”
Wei’s major research includes the effects of aging on the cardiovascular system, the biology of aging, and mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction. The Reynolds Institute on Aging is recruiting several nationally known researchers in aging whose work will be partially supported by the grant.
Under terms of the grant, researchers at UAMS will also collaborate with colleagues at the Reynolds Department of Geriatrics and Center on Aging at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.
“Our center will provide an environment that supports and nurtures new and promising investigators, including geriatrician scientists, while increasing the scientific community’s interest in committing to pursue research in aging,” Wei said.