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Pepper Center News and Events

December 6th Pepper Investigator Lecture

Translational Research on Aging and Metabolism (TRAM)

PHS 6250 Directed Studies in Metabolism students, please see your email for updates to this schedule.

Download the Fall 2014 Lecture Schedule »

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Dr. Liz LyonsDo wearable trackers measure up to comprehensive professional fitness plans?

Many wearables lack one or more of the tools that healthcare professionals call upon to help individuals increase their physical activity levels or stick to a fitness regimen, according to a researchers at UTMB, who were impressed by the trackers' overall sophistication anyway. "Despite their rising popularity, little is known about how these monitors differ from one another, what options they provide in their applications and how these options may impact their effectiveness," says senior author Elizabeth Lyons. "The feedback provided by these devices can be as, if not more, comprehensive than that provided by health care professionals."

The news also appears on the Huffington Post, Science Daily, Red Orbit, Health Canal, the Times of India and Medical Xpress.

Dr. Liz LyonsCongratulations to RCDC Scholar Dr. Elizabeth Lyons on recent K07 Grant Award:

Behavior Change Techniques Implemented in Electronic Lifestyle Activity Monitors: a Systematic Content Analysis

"The proposed research project includes qualitative and quantitative formative research leading to a randomized controlled feasibility trial of a video game-based physical activity intervention. Physical activity can reduce health risks and improve quality of life in breast cancer survivors, but activity levels in this population are low. Clinical interventions are successful in improving activity levels, but these programs are difficult to translate into sustainable home-based programs. Active video games may be able to apply effective strategies from these interventions in a home environment for a relatively low cost, increasing the public health impact of these programs." From the NIH website.

Dr. Hans DreyerCongratulations to former RCDC Scholar Dr. Hans Dreyer on recent R01 Grant Award:

Mechanistic Approach to Preventing Atrophy and Restoring Function in Older Adults

"The rationale for the proposed research is that effective treatments to prevent muscle atrophy after increasingly common TKA surgery will result in short- and longer-term muscle cell adaptations that boost functional mobility and quality of life. Identifying the mechanisms up-regulated by EAA treatment that preserve muscle volume and mobility will have a major impact on rehabilitation science." From the NIH website.

Dr. Linder Appointed Edna Seinsheimer Levin Endowed Professorship in Cancer Studies

Dr. LinderAnnouncing the appointment of Suzanne Linder, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences as the recipient of the Edna Seinsheimer Levin Endowed Professorship in Cancer Studies. Dr. Linder joined the School of Health Professions as a faculty member in May of this year.

The professorship was established by Dr. William C. Levin and his daughters Gerry Lee Hornstein and Carol Lynn Cantini. The purpose of this endowment is to assist in cancer research and study. The professorship rotates every 3 years between the School of Health Professions, the School of Nursing, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Medicine.

Dr. Linder's research interests are in patient-centered outcomes, mixed research methods, risk communications, health literacy, informed and shared decision making, and development and evaluation of patient decision aids. She will be working on a grant with Dr. James Goodwin "Patient-Centered Outcomes Research for the Elderly." She will also be an investigator on a grant entitled "Promoting informed decisions about lung cancer screening" funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Dr. Linder received her Doctorate in Public Health at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston School of Public Health in 2009. Her post-doctoral fellowship was at MD Anderson Cancer Center focusing on Patient-Centered Outcomes Research. Dr. Linder was recognized among the Top 10 Most Academically Productive Graduates for 2007-2011 by the Health Promotion and Behavioral Science Faculty, The University of Texas School of Public Health.

Doctor to speak on understanding, managing diabetes in senior citizens - Sept. 12

Dr. VolpiThe UTMB Sealy Center on Aging is hosting a conversation with Dr. Elena Volpi on “Strategies to Improve Eating Habits of Seniors with Diabetes.” The talk will address choosing foods for diabetic meals on a budget, learning healthy eating habits and understanding how diabetes medicine works.The event will begin at 10 a.m. Friday in the UTMB Sealy Center on Aging Learning Center, located in the UTMB Primary Care Pavilion, Suite 115 at 400 Harborside Drive, in Galveston.

Seating is limited. Call 409-771-3044 for reservations.

Pepper Investigators Meeting Sept 3

Please join us for the next Pepper Investigator’s LecturePlease join us for the next Pepper Investigator's Lecture: September 3, 2014 Noon-1pm RSH 6.100

"Lifelong Depletion of Satellite Cells in Sedentary Mice Impairs Muscle Regenerative Capacity But Does Not Contribute to Sarcopenia"

Presented by Christopher Fry, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition and Metabolism

Lunch provided, first come, first served

Contact: Stephanie Burt

What a perfect day of eating enough protein looks likeDr. Paddon-Jones

"Balancing out your protein intake optimizes muscle protein synthesis at more points throughout the day, not just at night," says lead study author Doug Paddon-Jones, a professor at UTMB. That can help you retain muscle you might otherwise forfeit to age, so spread the protein love around.

Pepper Investigators Meeting Aug 6

Please join us for the next Pepper Investigator’s LecturePlease join us for the next Pepper Investigator's Lecture: August 6, 2014 Noon-1pm RSH 6.100, "Functional Outcomes, Diet Quality, and Physical Activity in Older Adults Enrolled in a Nutrition and Exercise Intervention"
Presented by Melissa M. Markofski, PhD

Lunch provided, first come, first served

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Dr. Paddon-JonesBalancing daily protein intake across meals increases muscle protein

Continuing coverage: In a new paper published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers asked a simple question, assuming that a total of 90 grams per day would be best: Would human subjects make more muscle protein if their optimal intake was evenly split across the three meals when compared with typical protein intake patterns skewed toward a protein-heavy dinner? The study was conducted with a group of five men and three women between ages 25 and 55. The subjects were physically active, but not athletically trained, averaging 32 percent body fat and with an average body mass index in the normal range. The research team was led by Douglas Paddon-Jones at UTMB and Donald K. Layman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Paddon-Jones and colleague, Blake Rasmussen, originally proposed in 2009 that the even ingestion of protein at each meal could reduce aging-related sarcopenia, the progressive 3 to 8 percent loss of muscle that we inevitably face with each decade after age 30. This is the first study testing that hypothesis in young and middle-aged adults.

Impact Newsletter article linkSenior patients at UTMB participate in study on reducing rehospitalization

“We are trying to break the cycle of rehospitalization,” said Rachel Deer, the post-doctoral fellow running the clinical trial. “By using different intervention strategies we can help the elderly population recover from their hospital stay more quickly.”

Dr. Elena Volpi, senior investigator of the study, directs UTMB’s Sealy Center on Aging. She says the goal of the trial is to help seniors recover their physical function after a serious illness and maintain their independence.

Dr. MuirOur Bodies, Our Lives: Impaired decision has effect on many lives

In the latest Our Bodies, Our Lives column by UTMB's Dr. Tristi Muir: As alcohol is absorbed from the gut, it's distributed in the water of the body. Women have less water in their bodies than men (as a percentage); therefore, drink for drink, alcohol packs a bigger punch in women than men. As women age, they have even less water in their bodies, further enhancing the effects of alcohol.

Dr. Rene Przkora
IARS grants UT medical branch scientist $150,000 award for anesthesia research

The International Anesthesia Research Society awarded four promising, young investigators with $600,000 worth of new 2014 IARS Mentored Research Awards. Among them, the IARS grants program awarded Dr. Rene Przkora of UTMB $150,000 in grants for his work on anesthesia used in hip joint replacement surgeries. "Preconditioning of Older Patients Undergoing Hip Joint Replacement Surgery" is Przkora's awarded project, which explores the role of anesthesiology in relation to hip replacement surgery from the preoperative period through to the surgery's end, a project that IARS considers to be an important step in strengthening the specialty as well as supporting the surgical-home concept. Przkora focused on this theme in his research in response to the fact that joint replacement surgery is becoming more common and not only performed in the case of cancer or cardiovascular diseases.

Pepper Investigators Meeting July 2

Please join us for the next Pepper Investigator’s LecturePlease join us for the next Pepper Investigator's Lecture: July 2, 2014 Noon-1pm RSH 5.100 "Effects of Muscle Strength on Acute Hospitalization Length of Stay, Discharge Setting, and 1-year Mortality in Older Adults" Presented by Soham Al Snih, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences

Lunch provided, first come, first served

Contact: Stephanie Burt

UTMB joins national study on fall prevention

UTMB is participating in a $30 million national study on preventing falls in older people. Each year, 1 out of 3 adults 65 and older will fall, sustaining injuries that can lead to a precipitous decline in health, loss of independence and potentially death. [Note: Link unavailable.]

5 things you've got all wrong about protein

Continuing coverage: "Our research shows that eating about 30 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner is more beneficial for muscle protein synthesis than eating a large amount at dinner," explains Douglas Paddon-Jones, professor of nutrition and metabolism at UTMB. The study, reported in the Journal of Nutrition found a 25 percent increase in muscle protein synthesis when protein is divided into three, 30-gram doses at breakfast, lunch and dinner compared to eating the same total protein (90 grams) but in this distribution pattern: 11 grams protein at breakfast, 16 grams at lunch and 63 grams at dinner.

Dr. Paddon-JonesUTMB research on muscle protein synthesis points out the need for new American eating habits

Continuing coverage: A group of scientists at UTMB recently concluded that people's protein consumption should be distributed through all three daily meals for improved muscle growth and health, adding that greater portions should be taken at breakfast and lunch instead of being over-consumed at dinner.

Doug Paddon-Jones, muscle metabolism expert at UTMB, and one of the scientists involved in the research, explained that consuming proteins later in the day doesn’t allow the body to process it in the most effective way. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we’re often taking in more than we can use.” The news also appears in HealthDay, the Times of India, Medical News Today, Bay Area Citizen, Science Daily, Medical Xpress, among other outlets. 

The New Rules of Protein

A new study from UTMB found that a blend of soy, casein, and whey prolongs the delivery of nutrients after a workout, enhancing muscle recovery and growth better than whey alone can.

Soy-Dairy Protein Blend and Whey Protein Ingestion After Resistance Exercise Increases Amino Acid Transport and Transporter Expression in Human Skeletal Muscle. Read the article at the Journal of Applied Physiology

Pepper Investigators Meeting May 7

Please join us for the next Pepper Investigator’s LecturePlease join us for the next Pepper Investigator’s Lecture: May 7, 2014 Noon-1pm RSH 6.100 Pilot Trials of Technology-Based Physical Activity Interventions Presented by Elizabeth Lyons, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor, Institute for Translational Sciences

Lunch provided, first come, first served

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Dr. VolpiThe risk of high-protein diets

Research shows that a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates can help shed pounds and normalize blood-glucose levels, improvements that lower the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But will you live longer on a high-protein, low-carb diet? Two studies in the current edition of the scientific journal Cell Metabolism suggest the opposite. "High protein diets may be effective to lose weight rapidly," said Dr. Elena Volpi, a professor of geriatrics at UTMB. "But very high protein diets may also be harmful." Americans tend to consume the bulk of their protein at dinner, and the body isn't always able to process an entire day's worth in one sitting, said Volpi, who wasn't involved in either study. "It appears you can better use the protein you need if you distribute it across three meals, especially if you are a senior," she said.

Dr. Paddon-JonesMidlife nutrition: Helping women over 40 overcome nutrition challenges

Douglas Paddon-Jones, a professor in the department of nutrition and metabolism at UTMB, says loss of lean body mass starts in the 30s and 40s. "Women need to understand the impact diet has on muscle loss the same way they understand how diet affects osteoporosis risk." Paddon-Jones explains that after age 40, women lose about 1 percent of their lean body mass per year if they're inactive.

Dr. MuirPepper Pilot Project Investigator Dr. Tristi Muir Speaks at UTMB's "The Lunch Bunch"

Dr. Tristi Muir presents, "What should we do about all the symptoms of menopause? Are hormones helpful or harmful?" As with all Lunch Bunch presentations, the event was free and open to the public. For questions about this or future sessions, call 832-505-1600 or email


TRAM Lecture Special TRAM Lecture Mar. 10

Please join us for a special lecture: Monday, March 10, 2014 - 3-4pm Shriners Hospitals for Children - 7th Floor Auditorium, "Pharmacological Approaches to Modify Brown Fat Development and Energy Expenditure" Presented by Shingo Kajimura, PhD Assistant Professor, UCSF Diabetes Center Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research Department of Cell and Tissue Biology.

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Dr. MuirPepper Pilot Project Investigator Dr. Tristi Muir: Our Bodies, Our Lives - Fight Back Against Stress

Dr. Tristi Muir presents. In a world where stress is a constant companion, what can we do to fight back? Read the article at the Galveston Daily News.


19th Annual Lefeber Winter Series on Aging
Jan through March 2014

The 19th annual Lefeber Winter Lecture Series, presented by the Sealy Center on Aging on consecutive Tuesdays through March 4, continues tonight from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Levin Hall South Auditorium, located at 10th and Market streets. "Is HIV a model of accelerated aging?" will be presented by Dr. Kevin P. High, professor of medicine and translational chief in the section of infectious diseases and associate dean for clinical research at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Next week's lecture will look at pathways to healthy aging.

Tuesday evenings, January 28 - March 4, 2014

Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition Seminar
March 6

2013-14 Seminar Series
Center for Recovery, Physical Activity
and Nutrition
Neural Plasticity in
Neurorehabilitation of TBI:
Facilitating Functional Neural Repair
Presented by:
Theresa Pape, DPH, MA
Deputy Associate Chief of Staff &
Clinical Neuroscientist
Research & Development Service,
Edward Hines Jr. VAHThe Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition 2013-14 Seminar Series, "Neural Plasticity in Neurorehabilitation of TBI: Facilitating Functional Neural Repair" Presented by: Theresa Pape, DPH, MA Deputy Associate Chief of Staff & Clinical Neuroscientist Research & Development Service, Edward Hines Jr. VA

Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 1.202 SHP/SON
Contact: Beth Cammarn

Pepper Investigators Meeting March 5

Please join us for the next Pepper Investigator’s Lecture:   March 5, 2013 Noon-1pm RSH 6.100   Patient and Caregiver Preferences in Stroke Rehabilitation Presented by Timothy Reistetter, PhD, OTR Associate Professor, Division of Rehabilitation SciencesPlease join us for the next Pepper Investigator's Lecture: March 5, 2013 Noon-1pm RSH 6.100 "Patient and Caregiver Preferences in Stroke Rehabilitation Outcomes" Presented by Timothy Reistetter, PhD, OTR, Associate Professor, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Special TRAM meeting March 4

Please join us for a special TRAM Meeting:   Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12-1pm Rebecca Sealy 6.100     Novel Strategies to Improve Physical Function in Older Adults: Discussing Potential Collaborations Between UTMB and Ritsumeikan University   Presented by   Satoshi Fujita, PhD Professor, Ritsumeikan UniversityPlease join us for a special TRAM Meeting: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12-1pm Rebecca Sealy 6.100

"Novel Strategies to Improve Physical Function in Older Adults: Discussing Potential Collaborations Between UTMB and Ritsumeikan University" Presented by Satoshi Fujita, PhD Professor, Ritsumeikan University

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Dr. Ottenbacher

Months after rehab, knee and hip patients keep improving

People who have had a knee or hip replacement reap the benefits of intense rehab months after they've returned home, according to a new analysis. "If you can get patients to a certain threshold level, they can do the rest of the rehabilitation on their own," coauthor Kenneth Ottenbacher told Reuters Health. "In a sense, these patients become their own physical therapists," he said. Ottenbacher directs the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB.

February 5, 2013  Pepper Investigator's LecturePepper Investigator's Lecture

"Amino Acid Sensing in the Control of mTORC1 Signaling and Protein Metabolism in Aging Muscle" Presented by Blake B. Rasmussen, PhD Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition and Metabolism

Lunch provided, first come, first served

Contact: Stephanie Burt

Dallas Morning News, Jan. 17, 2014

Dr. Kyriakos MarkidesDecoding 'the Hispanic Paradox'

Dr. Kyriakos Markides, a professor of aging studies at UTMB, coined the term Hispanic Paradox in 1986 while studying the health of Mexicans in the Southwest. "It's been many years since we discovered this, and people still haven't figured it out," he says. Back in the '80s, Markides' research showed that the health of Hispanics in the Southwest resembled that of Anglos, although Hispanics were poorer, were more likely to be unemployed and had less access to health care. "It was so paradoxical," he says. A recent study that found that Hispanics in Texas are usually diagnosed with cancer much later than Anglos. But even then, Hispanic immigrants are more likely than whites to survive cancer. It's yet another paradox. "It's a very puzzling fact," says Dr. James S. Goodwin, a doctor at UTMB, who led the cancer study. Goodwin agrees that the importance of family may lie at the heart of the Hispanic Paradox and that the survival advantage might be explained by the fact that Hispanics who are sick and hospitalized are more likely to be discharged home and taken care of by family, compared with other groups.

2014 OAIC Annual Meeting Information & Registration

Download Registration Form

Event: 2014 OAIC Annual Meeting
Date: April 7 & 8, 2014
ocation: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

Dates to remember:
March 3, 2014: All attendee registrations & Junior Faculty Mock Study Section proposals due to the coordinating center
March 10, 2014: All Poster information and abstracts due
March 16, 2014: Cut-off Date for the Room Block (Room Block Dates: Sunday April 6th and Monday April 7th)

Contact: Stephanie Burt


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