• Welcome to the Sealy Center on Aging
  • 20th Annual Forum on Aging
  • UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging presents the 22nd Lefeber Winter Series on Aging.
  • Planning a career in Geriatrics, Family Medicine, Primary Care, Internal Medicine, or Preventive Medicine? Sign up for The Geriatric Track in the the School of Medicine. Electives: MEDU 4006, MEDU 4030, MEDU 4033

Welcome to the Sealy Center on Aging

The Sealy Center on Aging (SCOA) focuses on improving the health and well-being of the elderly through interdisciplinary research, education, and community service by integrating the resources and activities relevant to aging at UTMB.

The Center extends a positive impact by implementing our research findings in hospitals and clinics, bringing excellence and visibility to our health care system, and improving the health of our seniors.

Center Director:
Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, Daisy Emery Allen Distinguished Chair in Geriatric Medicine and Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine - Geriatrics, Neuroscience & Cell Biology and Nutrition & Metabolism.


Fast Facts

10 years

Over the past 10 years, we have trained 61 graduate students, 41 medical students, 88 postdoctoral fellows and 58 junior faculty.


$$

All SCOA medical students, 28 pre-doctoral students, 21 post-doctoral fellows and all junior faculty scholars have been supported by our grants with either salary support or pilot funding.


The Center increased the number of active clinical trials with effective treatments from 11 to 22 in the past five years.


SCOA News

Linder Award Recipient

Dr. Swartz receives inaugural Linder Award

October 27, 2016

Dr. Maria Swartz receives award from Sealy Center on Aging Director Dr. Elena Volpi

The Sealy Center on Aging presented the inaugural Dr. Suzanne Kneuper Linder Research Award for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research to postdoctoral fellow Maria C. Swartz, PhD, MPH, RD, LD, during the 20th Annual Forum on Aging on October 20, 2016.

The Dr. Suzanne Kneuper Linder Research Award Fund is a permanent endowment in the School of Health Professions, established in memory of Dr. Suzanne Linder, former Edna Seinsheimer Levin Endowed Professor in Cancer Studies and Assistant Professor in the Division of Rehabilitation. Funds distributed from the endowment shall be used to give an award to a Fellow and/or Student and/or other Trainee working in patient centered research. The awardee is selected by the Director of the Sealy Center on Aging in consultation with the Dean of the School of Health Professions

Dr. Swartz's primary area of research aims to develop and evaluate technology-based health promoting interventions that can be incorporated into pre-habilitation, rehabilitation, and community settings to improve cancer survivors' quality of life. Dr. Swartz's long-term goal is to use her research to influence health policy change in order to optimize cancer care for cancer survivors.

20th Annual Forum on Aging

The 20th Annual Forum on Aging

October 24, 2016

The Sealy Center of Aging celebrated their 20th Annual Forum on Aging on Thursday, October 20, 2016 in the Levin Hall Dining Room. The science presented was very strong and encouraged very interesting discussions and networking. Of the 89 presenters, 58 were from students and fellows who competed for 14 awards. Congratulations winners and thank you to everyone who presented and attended the Forum on Aging.

View photos: 20th Annual Forum on Aging

Postdoc and student winners at the 20th Annual Forum on Aging

Student Poster Award Winners

  • Neuroscience - Kara Barber & Claudia Marino
  • Basic Science - Danelo Cortez
  • Rehabilitation - Kay Kulkarni
  • Health Disparities - Jaqueline Contrera Avila & Mary Margaret King
  • Medical Effectiveness - Keli Perino
  • Clinical Trials & Implementation - Leyla Akhverdiyeva

Postdoctoral Poster Award Winners

  • Basic Science & Neuroscience - Emily Hadley
  • Health Disparities - Ickpyo Hong
  • PCOR & Medical Effectiveness - Raju Bishwakarma & Ayodele Osasona
  • Clinical Trials & Implementation - Rachel Deer & Elfego Galvan

Sigma Xi Membership Winners - Elfego Galvan & Claudia Marino

Lunch & Learn Recap

Lunch & Learn: Prevention of Falls
Center for Spirituality on Aging

October 19, 2016

The UTMB Center for Spirituality of Aging and the Sealy Center on Aging wrapped up their six-lecture series, Lunch and Learn: Prevention of Falls on October 18, 2016 at the McGuire Dent Recreational Center. UTMB experts presented a variety of information to elders in the local area ranging from nutrition and medications to home hazards. The series was made possible through a grant from the First Presbyterian Church of Galveston and by the leadership of Rev. Helen Appelberg and Bets Anderson.

Rev. Helen Appelberg addressing elderly guests at Lunch and Learn presentation

Walk to End Alzheimer's

Raising Funds to Erase Alzheimer's

October 11, 2016

The UTMB Internal Medicine/SCOA team participated in the 5K Walk to End Alzheimer's event on Saturday, October 8, 2016 along the Seawall by Stewart Beach Pavilion. Through the generous donations given and proceeds from the bake sale, coordinated by Division of Geriatric Medicine's Christian Mikobi, the team raised $6,183.46, beating their last year's total of $4,300. The team was also in the top 3 groups to collect the most funds out of the 90 participating teams. Together, everyone is helping to advance research that will treat and prevent Alzheimer's, and provide programs and support to improve the lives of millions of affected Americans.

View photos: UTMB Internal Medicine/SCOA Team & Bake Sale

UTMB Internal Medicine and Sealy Center on Aging Team Members

Adverse Responses in Elders

Adverse drug responses cause thirty percent of older adults' hospitalizations

KXXV-TV ABC - October 11, 2016

Dr. Mukalia Raji

Thirty percent of all hospital admissions in older adults affected by adverse drug effects and medication toxicity are the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to Division of Geriatric Medicine Director and SCOA Senior Fellow Dr. Mukaila Raji. Dr. Raji recently gave a lecture on the topic that was picked up by TV stations around the state.

Read More: Thirty percent of older adults' hospitalizations due to adverse drug responses

This news was also reported in WMC Action News 5, KSWO-TV 7, KSLA News 12, KTRE ABC-9, News Channel 10, WDAM – Channel 7, Telemundo Amarillo, News West 9 and numerous other stations.

Dr. Raji speaking to guests about the correlation between adverse drug responses and older adults' hospitilizations.

Kuo & Raji: Opioid Study

Kuo & Raji awarded $1.4 million to study opioid use in the elderly

September 26, 2016

Dr. Yong-Fang Kuo Dr. Mukalia Raji

Yong-Fang Kuo, PhD, Director of the UTMB Office of Biostatistics and Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, and Mukaila M. Raji, MD, MS, FACP, Chair of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Internal Medicine, UTMB have been awarded $1.4 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse over four years for a new study, “Pattern, Variation and Outcomes of Opioid Prescription in Older Adults” (1R01DA039192). The study will track the use of different classes of opioid pain killers in the geriatric population (excluding those with cancer).

Opioid prescribing in the US has increased more than threefold over the last decade. More than 200 million opioid prescriptions are issued in the US each year and approximately 16,000 people die annually from opioid overdose. Many more experience opioid addiction. The Controlled Substances Act in 2014 changed the classification of hydrocodone combination products from schedule III (moderate to low abuse potential) to schedule II (high abuse potential) in order to stem these needless deaths and addictions.

This study will be the first nationwide assessment of opioid use variation and clinical outcomes. It will serve as an essential foundation for policy reform and clinical practice guidelines, both critical steps in reducing the nationwide toll of addiction, morbidity, and death from opioids among the elderly. Drs. Kuo and Raji will look at the patterns of opioid use among the Medicare population, to determine the patient and provider characteristics associated with such use. In addition, they will look at the adverse outcomes among these older adults, including falls, fractures, emergency room visits, hospitalization, institutionalization, and mortality.

Co-investigators are Drs. James Goodwin (Internal Medicine-Geriatrics), Jacques Baillargeon (PMCH), Kathryn A. Cunningham (Pharmacology), and Denise M. Wilkes (Anesthesia).

Dr. Kuo Awarded R01 Funds

Dr. Yong-Fang Kuo Awarded to Conduct Population-Based Investigations

September 26, 2016

Dr. Yong-Fang Kuo

Yong-Fang Kuo, PhD, Director of the UTMB Office of Biostatistics and Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, has been awarded $745,575 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The grant provides four additional years of funding for her study, "Assessing the Role of Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care of Older Adults" (2R01HS02064204).

Co-investigators on this project are Mukaila M. Raji, MD, MS, FACP, Chair of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Internal Medicine, James S. Goodwin, MD, Professor of the Division of Geriatrics in Department of Internal Medicine, Daniel Jupiter, PhD, Assistant Professor of in Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health.

The study extends their previous work comparing Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and medical doctors (MDs) in their primary care of older adults. Over a 12-year period (1998-2010), they found a 15-fold increase in the number of older adults receiving care from NPs. These increases were strongly tied to the level of state regulation of NP practice. However, many patients receive care from a group of medical professionals, a practice called “the shared care model” or “team primary care approach.”

Future studies will expand their analysis using social network analysis (SNA) to identify team practices within each of the 7,144 primary care services areas (PCSA) defined by the Dartmouth Health Atlas, using 2013-2016 national Medicare data. They will identify these models, characterize the patient, regional and health system factors associated with each, and compare NP-MD team care models to the MD-only model. This will be the first population-based nationwide assessment of interdisciplinary primary care team models.

Results will inform policy reform and clinical practice organization by providing actionable information about the NP-MD team characteristics that best support cost-effective care coordination, care integration, chronic disease management, and population health management programs for patients under the Affordable Care Act-mandated alternative health care and payment models.

Dr. Kuo is the inaugural holder of the Don W & Frances Powell Professorship in Aging Research. She received her PhD in Biostatistics from the Ohio State University in 1997. After working as a biostatistician and manager for Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia, PA, she joined UTMB and the Sealy Center on Aging in 2002. She has been continuously funded by the NIH since 2003. In 2012 she was named Director of the UTMB Office of Biostatistics. She is a Professor in the School of Nursing and the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, UTMB.

Dr. Kuo is the author of more than 220 peer-reviewed articles. Her methodological research interests include: refining measures of comorbidity with claims data; comparing the performance of statistical methods through simulation; developing statistical models to adjust for incompleteness of data (e.g.: reporting delay, imperfect merge across data sets); and evaluating the agreement between measures from different sources of data. Her aging-related research interests are: cancer surveillance and screening with Medicare claims data; ethnic differences in use of health care; patterns and outcomes of hospitalist care; and the effectiveness of nurse practitioner care.

Source: UTMB Impact

Ottenbacher: NIH Advisory

Ottenbacher appointed to National Advisory Board at the National Institutes of Health

September 22, 2016

Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher

Kenneth Ottenbacher, Associate Director for the Sealy Center on Aging and Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences in the School of Health Professions at UTMB has been appointed by the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve a 5-year term as a member of the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research.

Comprised of 18 members, the Board advises the NIH Director and the Director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research on matters and policies relating to the Center's medical rehabilitation research and training programs. The Board reviews and assesses federal recommendations for the coordination of such research conducted and supported by the NIH and other agencies of the Federal Government.

Deer: ACSM Webinar

Deer gives lecture for American College of Sports Medicine webinar

September 21, 2016

Dr. Rachel Deer

Rachel Deer, SCOA Postdoctoral Fellow and associate scholar of the UTMB Pepper Center, recently gave a webinar lecture titled, "Challenges in Providing Protein to Support Nutrition and Health Needs in Older Adults" to over 1000 participants on Sept 21, 2016. It was co-sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Soyfoods Association of North America. The webinar focused on the unique challenge that older adults face in meeting their proper protein requirements to maintain muscle mass and independence.

Raji: Alzheimer's disease

Dr. Raji: Alzheimer's research offers hope

Galveston Daily News - September 19, 2016

Dr. Mukalia Raji

Division of Geriatric Medicine Director and SCOA Senior Fellow Dr. Mukaila Raji was recently interviewed the Galveston Daily News about Alzheimer's disease research.

"I am optimistic about ongoing studies geared toward the discovery of simple blood tests that can detect Alzheimer's in its early stages, given the incredible advances we have seen in genomic," Raji said. "However, at this point, we do not have any blood tests that are specific or sensitive enough to detect Alzheimer's disease and help clinicians make decisions about diagnosis and treatment. What we have now is mostly a combination of a spinal fluid test and a brain amyloid scan as a mechanism for detecting Alzheimer's in its early stages."

Read More: Alzheimer's research offers hope

Hispanic Aging Conference

UTMB Presentations at 2016 International Conference on Aging in the Americas

September 14-16, 2016

group photo of students at the International Conference on Aging in the Americas

Two doctoral students, two post-doctoral fellows, and a faculty member from UTMB presented their research projects at the 2016 International Conference on Aging in the Americas on September 14-16, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.

This year, the University of Texas at San Antonio hosted the conference at their campus and had about 40 researchers present their work as an oral and poster presentation. The theme this year was "Contextualizing Health and Aging on Both Sides of the U.S./Mexico Border." The UTMB WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center on Aging and Health co-sponsored the conference.

UTMB students and faculty member accepting presentation awards

Paddon-Jones: Protein

Dr. Paddon-Jones: The big protein mistake you're probably making

MSN Lifestyle - September 15, 2016

Dr. Doug Paddon-Jones

Protein is part of a healthy diet, but most people are taking in much more than recommended according to a UTMB study conducted by SCOA Senior Fellow Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones and colleagues.

"We’re not pythons," says Paddon-Jones. "We can't eat an entire chicken and use its protein for the rest of the week." The study recommends a protein intake spread evenly throughout the day.

Paddon-Jones and colleagues conducted a study to prove this, comparing the muscle-boosting benefits of two beef meals - one containing 30 grams of protein (roughly the amount in three ounces of chicken) and one with triple that amount. They found that people who ate the larger meal didn't get any additional benefits (just extra calories); blood samples and muscle biopsies showed no increase in muscle protein synthesis (i.e., growth).

This news was also reported in The Herald.

Read More: The big protein mistake you're probably making

Goodwin: Washington Post

Clinton's heat stress is not indicative of a broader health issue

Washington Post - September 11, 2016

Dr. James Goodwin

UTMB's James Goodwin spoke to the Washington Post for a story about Hillary Clinton's health.

"It's usually not indicative of broader health issues," Dr. Goodwin told the Post concerning the presidential nominee's episode over the weekend.

Dr. Goodwin is the George and Cynthia Mitchell Distinguished Chair of Geriatric Medicine and PI of the UTMB Comparative Effectiveness Research on Cancer in Texas (CERCIT) and the UTMB Patient Centered Outcomes Research in the Elderly (PCOR). Dr. Goodwin also led the establishment of both the UTMB Sealy Center on Aging and UTMB Pepper Center. His research focus includes comparative effectiveness of cancer care in the elderly, recovery of function after hospitalization, the overutilization of medical tests and treatments, and the assessment of individual provider performance with administrative data.

Read Article: Hillary Clinton has not been quick to share health information.

CERCIT Renewal

UTMB-led group wins additional 5-year funding from Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas

September 1, 2016

Dr. James Goodwin

A multi-institutional group, led by James S. Goodwin, MD, has been awarded a second five years of funding for "Comparative Effectiveness Research on Cancer in Texas" (CERCIT). The $6 million grant is from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. The CERCIT renewal will build on our analyses of administrative data but expand our methods to better measure individual patient characteristics and include information on patient preferences and patient reported outcomes. Our goal is to generate evidence that will help patients and their physicians make individualized decisions about the best cancer care options for each patient. These choices include screening, treatment and end of life care in cancer.

Dr. Goodwin is optimistic about the knowledge this research will bring. "We have had a highly successful beginning, working with TCR to expand the data available to examine cancer care in Texas. We now wish to build on that by adding patient-reported outcomes. At the completion of this project, we will have generated novel, patient-centered evidence to assist patients in making decisions across the continuum of cancer care. We will have also developed the models and practical expertise needed to facilitate ongoing research seeking to personalize and improve cancer care in Texas."

The four projects of CERCIT are summarized below:

Project 1
(PI: James S. Goodwin, MD, UTMB) is on screening for cancer. Its major new emphasis is on lung cancer screening with low dose CT (LDCT), recently approved by CMS and insurance companies. Because of the potential harm from screening, CMS has mandated a counseling/ shared decision making (SDM) visit prior to receipt of LDCT. We will analyze Texas Medicare data from 2009-2019 to determine the patterns of counseling/ SDM and also receipt of LDCT lung cancer screening. We will also design and implement a survey of patients who have undergone counseling/ SDM with or without subsequent LDCT screening and also survey patients likely to qualify for LDCT screening who had not yet received it.

Project 2
(PI: Sharon Giordano, MD, MPH, MD Anderson) will evaluate outcomes among older patients with colorectal, breast, and lung cancer who are treated with chemotherapy. We will assess how the toxicity varies by type of chemotherapy. We will also describe patient-reported outcomes among older cancer survivors in Texas with local and regional stage colorectal and breast cancer by surveying patients 24 months after diagnosis. We will assess how those outcomes vary by use and type of chemotherapy and by patient race/ethnicity.

Project 3
(PI: Benjamin Smith, MD, MD Anderson), we will recruit patients from diverse practice settings to participate in semi-structured interviews to identify relevant outcomes and inform survey instrument development. We will then partner with the Texas Cancer Registry to conduct large, population-based surveys of breast and oropharyngeal cancer survivors. We will use these findings to construct a tool that generates personalized outcome estimates. Demonstrating the viability of this model will promote a novel, patient-centered paradigm for promoting personalized, preference-sensitive decision making in cancer care.

Project 4
(PIs: Beverly A. Guadagnolo, MD, MPH, MD Anderson; and Linda S. Elting, DrPH, MD Anderson) We will administer a survey about patient preferences for aggressiveness of end-of-life (EOL) care to a cohort of newly diagnosed cancer patients. We will assess trust in medical professionals, health literacy, and decisional self-efficacy among Texans with cancer to determine if there are racial/ethnic or socio-economic differences in these domains and whether these domains are associated with preferences regarding EOL care. We will then perform a longitudinal cohort study of TCR decedents with advanced cancer who completed the surveys.

The initial CERCIT program was funded for $8.1 million over five years. Its overall goal was to create a statewide resource for outcomes and comparative effectiveness research in cancer for Texas. The initial multidisciplinary consortium included investigators at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB, lead, James S. Goodwin, PI), MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Texas School of Public Health, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Cancer Registry.

Successes of the first CERCIT included:

  • More than 115 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Cancer (13 articles), Journal of Clinical Oncology (twelve), Health Services Research (three), JAMA Internal Medicine (three), JAMA (two), and Journal of the National Cancer Institute (two)
  • Close partnership with the Texas Cancer Registry (TCR), also funded by CPRIT
  • UTMB CERCIT Website that contains tables and figures on the status of cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment surveillance in different Texas communities. It also contained a query tool for specific data, along with video lectures, reports and publications from CERCIT.
  • Three major reports: "Cancer in Texas” (2012), "Cancer in Hispanics" (2014) and "The Geography of Cancer Care in Texas" (in press). These were 60-80 page monographs that were sent to all Texas legislators, relevant Texas government officials, interest groups and advocacy organizations, academic investigators, members of the media, and clinicians
  • Dissemination of the results of our studies through press releases and op/ed pieces in local Texas newspapers

James S. Goodwin, M.D. is currently the George and Cynthia Mitchell Distinguished Chair of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He attended Amherst College and Harvard Medical School, spent much of his early career at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and since 1992 has been in Galveston. Throughout his career he has written more than 300 scientific articles that have been cited more than 18,000 times and has been continuously funded by the NIH for 30+ years.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) was established in 2007 by the voters, who authorized the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. All CPRIT-funded research is conducted in state by Texas-based scientists and reflect CPRIT's mission to attract and expand the state's research capabilities and create high quality new jobs in Texas.

SCOA Learning Center

Pet Care and Maintenance for Seniors
Sealy Center on Aging Learning Center

The SCOA Learning Center hosted a conversation with retired veterinarian Dr. Billie Pennings on Monday, September 12, 2016. Dr. Pennings addressed the care and maintenance of pets, the recognition of pets becoming ill and addressed questions from attendees.

Dr. Pennings recommended that everyone begin introducing wet pet foods to cats and dogs that are accustomed to eating strictly dry foods so that it becomes easier for them to eat when they get older and lose their teeth. Other helpful tips included adopting older pets from local shelters and reading pet food labels so that pets are getting good food, which will help prevent illnesses and save trips to the vet.

About the SCOA Learning Center: The Learning Center is a free, accessible resource to promote healthy lifestyles, educate, and support seniors in our community as well as seniors visiting UTMB. It offers interactive talks on a variety of aging-related topics, free computer usage (and tutorials), fact sheets on health issues, brochures for agencies providing services to the older population and their families, and books and movies for education and entertainment.

Dr. Volpi Awarded R01 Funds

Dr. Volpi awarded $2.7 million to identify new treatments for muscle loss in older adults

August 5, 2016

Dr. Elena Volpi

Dr. Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, Director of the Sealy Center on Aging and Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and Daisy Emery Allen Distinguished Chair in Geriatric Medicine has been awarded $2.7 million from the National Institute on Aging for the five-year project, "Identifying therapeutic targets of accelerated sarcopenia."

The study will identify the mechanisms that can accelerate loss of muscle size, strength and physical function in older adults with type 2 diabetes and those who have been hospitalized. About one-third of older Americans have type 2 diabetes, and about one-third of the hospitalizations in the USA involve persons older than 65 year of age. The project will study how diabetes and inactivity impact muscle growth and loss in older adults. The processes will be studied based on how amino acids, the components of protein, are used by muscle to build protein during bed rest inactivity or exercise training.

The proposed research will help further the mission of the National Institutes of Health to develop the fundamental knowledge to improve health and reduce the burden of disability. It will do this by providing the fundamental evidence to identify new targets for the development of innovative treatments to slow down muscle loss and disability in our aging society.

Co-investigators for the project, all from UTMB, include Drs. L. Maria Belalcazar, Steven Fisher, and Blake Rasmussen. The study will be performed at the UTMB Institute for Translational Science's clinical research center with support from the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center.

More SCOA News

News Updated: 27-OCT-2016

Site managed by UTMB Sealy Center on Aging • Date Updated: 27-OCT-2016