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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 also implements 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

The Exercise Antidote

The Exercise Antidote
UTMB Collaborates with Institutions Across the U.S. to Study How Physical Activity Benefits the Body

UTMB Academic Enterprise Magazine | PDF | Summer 2017

photo of people exercising

What happens to your body when you work out? UTMB and other institutions around the country are joining forces to find out. UTMB recently received a $6.6 million grant to participate in a national project, the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium (MoTrPAC), which aims to better understand how physical activity improves health.



21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics
San Francisco, CA, July 23-27, 2017

By SCoA News| August 08, 2017

photo of woman giving presentation

Research investigators from UTMB recently attended the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics.

The following work was presented.


Influence of Cognitive Impairment on Progressing from Pre-Frailty for Older Mexican Americans, by Downer, B., Al Snih, S., Ottenbacher, K., & Markides, K. S.


Unmet Medical and Rehabilitation Needs in Community- Living Older Adults with Stroke in Mexico, by Kumar, A., Downer, B., & Wong R.

Does Spousal Loss Predict Cognitive Function? Results From the Mexican Health and Aging Study, by Saenz, J., Downer, B., Garcia, M., & Wong, R.


Racial and Ethnic Differences in Cognitive Impairment-Free Life Expectancy in the United States, by Garcia, M., Downer, B., Chiu, C., Saenz, J., Rote, S., & Wong, R.

Foods for the Muscle Bound

Dr. Rasmussen and Paddon-Jones on Combating Aging and Muscle Loss: Foods for the muscle bound

Prepared Foods | July 20, 2017

microscopic image

As people age, muscle mass decreases, a process termed sarcopenia. This can make life more difficult and can increase one's risk of falling a major cause of disability. Several things contribute to sarcopenia but inadequate protein or calorie intake is a major factor. UTMB's Blake Rasmussen and Doug Paddon-Jones are contributors discussing the importance of nutrition and the need for more research.

MSTAR Presentations

Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program
Student Presentations at UTSA

By SCoA News | June 22, 2017

MSTAR students 2017

Two students participated in the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program at SCoA this summer. They gave presentations at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio on June 22, 2017. Edgar Esparza (mentored by Hemalkumar Mehta, PhD), pictured on the bottom left, presented, "Antidiabetic Prescription Drug Trends in the United States from 2007 to 2014." Usama Jazzar (mentored by Stephen B. Williams, MD), pictured on the bottom right, presented, "Population-Based Assessment of the Impact of Psychiatric Illness and Survival Outcomes Following Treatment for Patients with Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer."

NIA Accepts Dr. Pappadis

Dr. Pappadis Accepted to NIA B-W Scholars Programs

By SCoA News | May 18, 2017

Monique Pappadis, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences and Fellow/RL5 Scholar of the Sealy Center on Aging, was recently selected to participate in the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Butler-Williams (B-W) Scholars Program, to be held July 31- August 4, 2017. The B-W Scholars Program is an intensive 5-day program geared towards emerging aging researchers and those with limited involvement in research on aging to learn more about research on aging and to further develop their interest in this challenging and important area.

Dr. Pappadis is one of 53 participants selected from among a group of outstanding applicants.

Welcome Dr. Sylvia Mejia

Welcome Sylvia Mejia, PhD to SCoA as Visiting Scholar in WHO/PAHO

By SCoA News | May 1, 2017

SCoA welcomes Dr. Sylvia Mejia as a Visiting Scientist in the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center, working with Dr. Wong on MHAS. Silvia Mejia, PhD joins SCoA for the next year as a Visiting Scientist as part of the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center. She'll be working with Dr. Rebeca Wong on the Mexican Health and Aging (MHAS) Cognitive Aging Ancillary Study. Dr. Mejia is a Professor in the Department of Population Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico. With a PhD in Neuroscience, she's looking forward to collaborating with researchers here at UTMB and beyond who are interested in studying cognitive aging.

PAA Annual Meeting

SCoA Researchers Present at the Population Association of America's Annual Meeting

Population Association of America | April 27-29, 2017

Population Association of America Annual Meeting

Read More: Presentations

New Investigator Award

Dr. Fry Receives New Investigator Award from the American Physiological Society

By SCoA News | April 24, 2017

photo of Chris Fry, PhD

Chris Fry, PhD, Assistant Professor in Nutrition & Metabolism received, "The American Physiological Society Environmental and Exercise Physiology New Investigator Award" during the Experimental Biology Meeting April 22-26, 2017.

Annual Pepper OAIC Meeting

Dr. Downer Receives Best Poster Award at the National Pepper Meeting

By SCoA News | March 24, 2017

photo of Brian Downer, PhD

Brian Downer, PhD, Assistant Professor in Rehab Sciences received the Best Poster Award at the 2017 National Pepper Older American Independence Center Meeting for his work titled, "Cohort Differences in Pre-Frailty and Frailty for Mexican Americans Aged 77 and Older". Co-Authors were Rafael Samper-Ternent, Bret Howrey, Soham Al Snih, Kyriakos Markides, and Ken Ottenbacher. More about the UTMB Pepper Center.

RSVP Poverty Simulation

RSVP Poverty Simulation

By SCoA News | March 15, 2017 | Event Brochure Photos

Participants of poverty simulation

The RSVP Senior Volunteer Program at SCoA sponsored a one-day Poverty Simulation event that gave participants the opportunity to experience a month living in poverty. 91 participants signed up to learn more about the obstacles that poor people face in their day-to-day lives. 20 vendors represented various agencies, work places, schools and other services. Participants were expected to earn income, provide for their families and watch over children. Offenders were sent to jail and CPS could remove children.

Overall, 68% of attendees reported an increase in their level of understanding of the circumstances of poverty after participating in the simulation. Some comments included, "I was surprised how fast I jumped into a role of survival" and "I was confused by the places I had to go, the coldness of trying to get help and the desperation I felt".

Thanks to Ritchie Adoue, Program Director for the RSVP program for organizing this event.

PCORI Grant Award

Pilot Project Recipient Awarded PCORI Grant for Data Visualization

UTMB Newsroom | March 13, 2017

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute awarded Suresh Bhavnani, PhD and his multidisciplinary team of data scientists and clinicians $525,000 to develop a new visual analytical method which will automatically identify patient subgroups in large datasets such as Medicare data, and test whether those subgroups can help to improve the prediction of hospital readmission in the elderly. Read more at the UTMB Newsroom.

Previously, Dr. Bhavnani was awarded a pilot project from PCOR at UTMB, "How Comorbidities Co-Occur in Readmitted Hip Fracture Patients: From Bipartite Networks to Post-Discharge Planning."

14th Annual Conference

Abundant Living: Nourishing Your Spirit

By SCoA News | March 6-8, 2017 | Conference Brochure Photos

Camp Allen President, George Dehan and Rev. Helen Appleberg

Each year, the Sealy Center on Aging partners with Camp Allen to create an engaging 3-day program that encourages older adults to embrace aging as a spiritual journey and to live the gift of years to the fullest. Participants are invited to learn from geriatricians; enjoy nature walks, cooking, canoeing and more. The 14th annual Abundant Living conference featured presentations by Drs. Goodwin, Volpi and Raji. Attendance increased by 50% this year and participant feedback was very positive. The 2018 conference is scheduled for the last week of February. Abundant Living is supported by the Center for Spirituality of Aging. Thanks to Rev Dr. Helen Appelberg and Bets Anderson, DrPH, FAAN for organizing this successful event.

More about Abundant Living

Dr. Volpi in LA Times: Muscle

Muscle mass declines with age. Here's what you can do

LA Times | February 23, 2017

Older adults exercising

A small amount of muscle loss is nearly inevitable with age. While the rate varies quite a bit, studies suggest the average person loses about 1% of muscle every year after about age 50, says Dr. Elena Volpi, director of the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
This news also reported in The Morning Call.

Lefeber Winter Series 2017

The 22nd Annual Lefeber Winter Series on Aging

By SCoA News | Tuesday Evenings January 31 through February 28, 2017

Click for more info: UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging presents the 22nd Lefeber Winter Series on Aging.

The Lefeber Winter Series on Aging, now in its 22nd year, features nationally recognized gerontology research educators, basic scientists, clinicians and social scientists. Each speaker presents a lecture on an important aspect of aging research and consults with students, faculty and staff on research topics, grant applications and articles being written for publication. Videos Now Available

OT Centennial Celebration

Dr. Ottenbacher - 1 of 100 Most Influential People in OT Centennial Celebration

By SCoA News | February 14, 2017

Dr. Ottenbacher has been selected as one of the 100 influential people in occupational therapy's first 100 years by the American Occupational Therapy Association as a part of their centennial celebration.

"Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR, has significantly advanced the science of occupational therapy. His research focus is rehabilitation outcomes, with an emphasis on the assessment of change in functional status, disability, frailty, and minority health in older adults." Read more about Dr. Ottenbacher at the OT Centennial website or visit Dr. Ottenbacher's web profile at UTMB.


Getting Fit After 55

Getting fit after 55 is easier than you think

By SCoA News | January 15, 2017

Dr. Jim Goodwin

Staying fit after 55 comes with many benefits. UTMB’s Jim Goodwin said one of the best reasons to exercise is that people feel better when they do. “For the last million years as we’ve been evolving, the species has been very active and stayed very active until recently,” Goodwin told The Daily News. Contact UTMB Media Relations for details.


Welcome Back, Rafael!

Rafael Samper-Ternent, MD, PhD returns to UTMB

By SCoA News | January 13, 2017

Dr. Samper-Ternent

Rafael Samper-Ternent, MD, PhD earned his MD from Javeriana University in Colombia and then earned his PhD from UTMB in Clinical Sciences. Following the completion of his residency in Geriatrics from Javeriana University in Colombia, he joins UTMB's Division of Geriatrics as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Samper-Ternent will spend 20% of his time as a physician in the Geriatrics clinic and the remainder devoted to research and collaboration with SCoA investigators. His research interests include working on Hispanic aging resilience and sarcopenia.


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