UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging redesignated a Collaborating Center
By Galveston Daily News 12/09/14
The world experts on aging research at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have again received an international designation acknowledging their niche in an area that grows more complex every day as the elderly population explodes worldwide. UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging has been redesignated by the World Health Organization as a WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center in Aging and Health. WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centers assist the global organization to investigate public health issues from many angles, ranging from basic science and animal studies to clinical trials, public policy, training and dissemination. UTMB is one of only three institutions in the United States to receive this designation. UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging plays a role as an information resource and a center for innovative, multidisciplinary research on a tremendous range of different aging issues, from stroke and dementia to falls, hospital readmissions, exercise, nutrition, palliative care decision-making, physical therapy, chronic disease, poverty, pensions, and a wide array of other clinical and health-policy related issues.
Congratulations to the 18th Annual Forum on Aging Poster Winners
By SCoA Webmaster 12/01/14
Postdoc Winners - From left to right: Nina Tamirisa (CER), Miroslav Nenov (Neuroscience), Carlos Diaz-Venegas (Clinical Epidemiology), Carrie Simmons (Clinical Research), Amitesh Agarwal (Clinical Epidemiology), Rachel Deer (PCOR), Bradley Lambert (Clinical Physiology), Faranak Behnia (Basic Science), Tony DiNuzzo (Director, Forum on Aging) and Elena Volpi (Director, Sealy Center on Aging).
Student Winners - From left to right: Charles Umbaugh (Basic Science), Kelsey English (Neuroscience), Claudia Marino (Neuroscience), Michael Borack (Clinical Physiology), Figaro Loresto (CER), Joseph Saenz (Health Disparities), Amanda Randolph (MSTAR Research), Amit Kumar (Clinical Epidemiology) and Tony DiNuzzo (Director, Forum on Aging).
Senior patients participate in UTMB study on reducing rehospitalization
By Galveston Daily News 11/18/14
Marie Butera sits down in a straight chair in the middle of her living room and holds a long red strip of elastic material stretched between her hands. She pulls her arms away from each other, then relaxes; pulls again, then relaxes. The two women sitting on the couch instruct her to place her foot on the exercise band. She pushes her foot away from her, struggling against the resistance of the elastic, then relaxes. She pushes again, knowing that every movement... more »
Dr. Rasmussen Receives New Grant Funding
By SCoA Webmaster 11/01/14
Blake Rasmussen was awarded for his new grant, "Effect of Specific Amino Acids on Human Muscle Protein Synthesis". It is sponsored by Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
About Navitor Pharmaceuticals: Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines by targeting cellular nutrient signaling pathways. The company's proprietary drug discovery platform targets mTORC1, which responds to and integrates the cell's response to nutrient availability and plays a key role in protein synthesis and cellular growth. Navitor's therapeutics are designed to selectively modulate the cellular signals that are aberrant in disease processes caused by the dysregulation of mTORC1 activity to address a wide range of diseases, including metabolic, neurodegenerative, autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as several rare disorders.
UTMB SCoA Represented at ICAAA
By SCoA Webmaster 09/25/14
The 2014 International Conference on Aging in the Americas (ICAA) is the seventh installment of the conference on aging in the Americas series, a partnership between the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Southern California, and the University of California - Los Angeles. This year, UTMB co-sponsored and co-organized. Our support came from the P&S Kempner Endowment and the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center on Aging and Health at UTMB.
Co-Organizers: Rebeca Wong (UTMB) and Fernando Riosmena (CU-Boulder).
Prizes were awarded to student posters. The winners this year were: 1st Carlos Diaz-Venegas (Post-doc, UTMB-SCoA), Family Size and Old-Age Well Being: effects of the fertility transition in Mexico; 2nd Jacqueline Torres (Post-Doc, UCSF), Gender, Migration, and Old-Age Health: effects of the spousal U.S. migration on the health of older Mexican women; 3rd Joseph Saenz (Pre-doc, UTMB-PMCH and SCoA), Educational Inequalities and Disability Onset among Older Mexicans. Congratulations, winners!
Local study: Testosterone therapy doesn't raise heart-attack risk
By Houston Chronicle 09/25/14
Continuing coverage: Testosterone treatment prescribed for men whose bodies produce little or no hormones doesn't increase the risk of heart attack, according to a Houston-area study that should ease fears of men with the condition. The study, conducted by researchers at UTMB, rebuts recent research that suggested the steroid hormone may be hazardous to men's cardiovascular health. The research had stirred much concern among both doctors and patients because testosterone use has exploded in recent years.
“Testosterone's perceived risk and impact on patients has been in the news a lot lately,” said Jacques Baillargeon, a UTMB professor of epidemiology and the study's lead author. “I hope this study brings some balance to the debate, that it's weighed alongside all the evidence.”
UTMB researchers discover brown fat protects against diabetes and obesity
By UTMB Impact Newsletter 08/04/14
Continuing coverage: Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have shown for the first time that people with higher levels of brown fat, or brown adipose tissue, in their bodies have better blood sugar control, higher insulin sensitivity and a better metabolism for burning fat stores... more »
Healthy 'brown fat' may cut odds for diabetes
By WebMD 07/24/14
Continuing coverage: People with higher levels of brown fat have a reduced risk for obesity and diabetes, a new study suggests. Unlike white fat, which lowers insulin sensitivity, researchers found that brown fat actually improves insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control and fat-burning metabolism. "This is good news for overweight and obese people," said Labros Sidossis, a professor of internal medicine in the division of geriatric medicine at UTMB. "This is great news for people with insulin resistance and diabetes, and suggests that brown fat may prove to be an important anti-diabetic tissue." The news continues to receive widespread coverage, appearing on MSN.com, CBS News, Everyday Health, Huffington Post, BioNews Texas and Men's Fitness.
Having the right kind of fat can protect against diabetes, study says
By Time Magazine 07/23/14
In a report published in the journal Diabetes, scientists led by Labros Sidossis, professor of internal medicine at UTMB, found for the first time that adults who retained more amounts of brown fat were better able to keep blood sugar under control and burn off fat stores. Previous studies have linked brown fat to better weight control, but these results also hint that the tissue may be important for managing diabetes. "Our data suggest that brown fat may function as both anti-obesity and anti-diabetic tissue in humans," says Sidossis. "And that makes it a therapeutic target in the battle against obesity and chronic disease. Anything that helps in this area, we need to pursue and make sure that if there is potential there, we exploit it."
A Visit with Dr. Elena Volpi
By SCoA Webmaster 07/15/14
Guidry News Service visited with Dr. Elena Volpi, the director of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston's Sealy Center on Aging and the principal investigator for UTMB in a $30 million national study to prevent falls in older people.
Balancing daily protein intake across meals increases muscle protein
By Forbes 07/15/14
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.
IARS grants UTMB scientist $150,000 award for anesthesia research
By BioNews Texas 07/11/14
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.
Dr. Przkora was a Pepper Center (UTMB OAIC) pilot/exploratory study grant recipient
UTMB joins national study on fall prevention
By Houston Chronicle 07/08/14
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.
Testosterone use doesn't increase heart risk, study finds
By The Wall Street Journal 07/03/14
Continuing coverage: Although recent research has linked testosterone therapy with a higher risk for heart attack and stroke, a new study involving more than 25,000 older men suggests otherwise. The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, may help ease some fears about testosterone therapy for patients and their families, the study authors said. "Our investigation was motivated by a growing concern, in the U.S. and internationally, that testosterone therapy increases men's risk for cardiovascular disease, specifically heart attack and stroke," said lead researcher Jacques Baillargeon, an associate professor of epidemiology at UTMB.
The news is receiving international coverage, appearing in the U.S. News & World Report, Times of India, WebMD, MSN, Science Daily, MedPage Today, Business Standard, HealthDay, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, Drugs.com and Yahoo! Health, among many other outlets. Watch video »
The Gerontological Society of America Selects 2014 Fellows
By SCoA Webmaster 07/01/14
UTMB's Kenneth Ottenbacher was awarded a fellow status in The Gerontological Society of America, the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, Education, and practice in the field of aging.
The status of fellow - the highest class of membership within the Society - is an acknowledgment of outstanding and continuing work in gerontology. This recognition can come at varying points in an individual's career and can acknowledge a broad scope of activity. This includes research, teaching, administration, public service, practice, and notable participation within the organization. Fellows are chosen from each of GSA's four membership sections. The new fellows will be formally recognized during GSA's 67th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 5 - 9 in Washington, DC.
Congratulations to 2014 MSTAR Students
By SCoA Webmaster 06/25/14
We congratulate the MSTAR students who presented their research results on June 25, 2014:
- Travis Urban:
Project: Developing an investigational and screening essay for cognitive enhancing protein complexes
Mentor: Kelly Dineley, PhD.
- Destiny Pegram:
Project: The effect of aging on the metabolic response to severe burn injury
Mentors: Labros Sidossis, PhD, Maria Chondronikola, MS
- Amanda Randolph:
Project: Metabolic effects of aerobic exercise and post-exercise amino acid supplementation in healthy older adults
Mentors: Elena Volpi, MD, PhD / Melissa Markofski, PhD
- Abigail Richison:
Project: Effect of protein blend supplementation after exercise on muscle protein synthesis in older adults
Mentors: Blake Rasmussen, PhD, Michael Borack, MS
5 things you've got all wrong about protein
By Huffington Post 06/10/14
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.
Improved access to health may lead to unnecessary mammograms
By Medical News Today 05/29/14
Researchers have concluded that providing better access to healthcare may lead to the overuse of mammograms for women who regularly see a primary care physician and who have a limited life expectancy. The cautionary note from researchers at UTMB is that screening women in this category could subject them "to greater risks of physical, emotional and economic suffering." Dr. Alai Tan, a senior biostatistician in UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging and lead author of the study, said that "there has been little systematic attempt to define guidelines that would help determine when breast cancer screening might not be appropriate or overused."
News of the findings also appears in Medical Xpress and Health Canal.
A Visit with Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones at GuidryNews.com
By SCoA Webmaster 05/27/14
Guidry News Service recently visited with Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones, leader of a team of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who last week announced their finding that a full serving of protein is needed at each meal for maximum muscle health.
UTMB research on muscle protein synthesis points out the need for new American eating habits
By BioNews Texas 05/21/14
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. This conclusion, published in the Journal of Nutrition, actually contradicts the standard eating habits of many Americans who usually skip protein at breakfast, have a moderate consumption of it at lunch, and a large amount of protein 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.
Protas: Traumatic brain injuries on the rise
By Galveston Daily News 05/20/14
In this guest column by UTMB's Elizabeth Protas: There has been a dramatic increase in the number of brain injuries treated in emergency departments. A recent study analyzing data from more than 950 hospitals across the country found there were 2.5 million emergency room visits for traumatic brain injuries in 2010 - a 29 percent increase from 2006. During that same period, overall emergency room visits increased only 3.6 percent. The UTMB School of Health Professions and the Transitional Learning Center in Galveston recently hosted the Galveston Brain Injury Conference.
Stroke rehabilitation different depending on region, UTMB study finds
By BioNews Texas 05/13/14
Continuing coverage: Researchers at UTMB recently found that people who have had a stroke recover differently depending on which part of the United States they live in. The team, led by UTMB's Timothy Reistetter, an associate professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, examined over 143,000 patients with stroke who were discharged from inpatient rehabilitation during 2006 and 2007. Considering that people who have had strokes represent the largest group benefiting from inpatient medical rehabilitation services in the nation, researchers aimed to find any regional variations in outcomes for these patients.
UTMB opens new meeting place for seniors at Galveston Primary Care Pavilion
By Bay Area Citizen 04/29/14
Galveston seniors have a new UTMB space to call their own. The Sealy Center on Aging Learning Center is now open on Galveston Island. The center, established to offer health information and educational opportunities to Galveston's senior community, is available free to those 55 and older for social activities like book clubs, support groups, cards, dominoes, board games and hobby groups. "The Sealy Center on Aging is committed, in so many different ways, to creating new pathways to health for seniors everywhere," said Dr. Elena Volpi, interim director of the Sealy Center on Aging. "The creation of a new public space for older adults in Galveston is a great way for us to share knowledge and create community all at the same time. I would like to invite all seniors from our community to visit our new center to experience first-hand what we have to offer."
Increased risk for colorectal cancer following radiation therapy for cervical cancer
By Medical News Today 04/22/14
Continuing coverage: Researchers at UTMB are the first to recommend that young women treated with radiation for cervical cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening earlier than traditionally recommended. The new CPRIT-funded study, which was recently posted online on the website for the journal Medical Oncology and featured Dr. Ana M. Rodriguez as lead author along with Dr. Yong-Fang Kuo and Dr. James S. Goodwin, reports a high level of incidence of secondary colorectal cancer diagnoses among survivors of cervical cancer who had been treated with radiation therapy.
UTMB study seeks to engage community in medical ethics issues
By Galveston Daily News 04/21/14
UTMB researchers are hopeful that discussions among non-healthcare communities may provide insight to the ethical questions that can arise with rising costs and emerging technologies and procedures. Researchers also want to learn more about how people in different social circles form opinions or make decisions about their healthcare. That could help shape health policy. The study is part of a project overseen by Dr. James S. Goodwin and funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. To complete the study, UTMB faculty worked with two different communities in Galveston. "Nowhere in the U.S., right now, is there regular engagement of ordinary citizens in bioethics dialogue in a sustained manner," study coordinator Dr. Howard Brody observed. "We are trying to show at UTMB, taking advantage of the cultural diversity of our region, that this is a feasible way to enrich bioethics debate in the future."
Dr. Riall accepted into the 2014-2015 class of fellows in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program
By UTMB School of Medicine 04/11/14
A Message from the Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean, School of Medicine
ELAM participants undergo a year-long in-depth mentoring program focused on leadership. They will each work on an action project that will address a need or priority for our Institution. Dr. Taylor Riall joined UTMB in 2005 and is Professor of Surgery and Director of the Center for Comparative Effectiveness and Cancer Outcomes. Dr. Riall is holder of the John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research and Associate Director of the Clinical Sciences Graduate Program. She is an outstanding academic surgeon and is an international expert in pancreatobiliary disease and pancreatic surgery outcomes research. A skilled and caring surgeon, Dr. Riall was listed in the SLD Industries, Inc. Guide to America's Top Surgeons in 2010 and as a Top Doctor by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. from 2008-2012 and by US News and World Report in 2012. She serves on the editorial board for the Annals of Surgery and the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery and has published over 115 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Riall has earned plaudits for her teaching excellence that include the UTMB Resident Teaching Award in 2006.
Sealy Center on Aging Welcomes Elena Volpi, MD, PhD as Director ad Interim
By SCoA Webmaster 03/31/14
Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, Professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, with joint appointments in the Departments of Neuroscience and Cell Biology and Nutrition and Metabolism, holder of the Daisy Emery Allen Distinguished Chair in Geriatric Medicine, and associate director of the Institute for Translational Sciences has been appointed as Director ad Interim of the Sealy Center on Aging ("SCoA") effective March 1, 2014. Dr. Volpi succeeds Dr. James S. Goodwin.
Dr. Volpi received her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Perugia, Italy, where she also trained in endocrinology. She completed her post-doctoral training fellowship in gerontology and metabolism at UTMB, and joined our faculty. She then joined the University of Southern California for several years and returned to UTMB in 2004. Dr. Volpi is a world renowned investigator in muscle aging, nutrition and metabolism, and has published more than 100 papers in high impact peer-reviewed journals including The Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Her national and international reputation and leadership in aging research is evidenced by service on journal editorial boards and NIH study sections, and participation in consensus panels on nutrition in older adults, including those organized by the Institute of Medicine and the American Federation for Aging Research.
Dr. Volpi is a well-funded scientist. Over the past fourteen years she has received continuous funding from the NIH as principal investigator of R01 grants, as well as other grant mechanisms. In 2010, she received a $5.8M P30 grant from the National Institute on Aging for renewed support of the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, which she directs. The focus of the Pepper Center is to translate biological mechanisms of muscle aging and behavioral predictors of physical function into interventions to improve independence and recovery from illness in older patients. Dr. Volpi also promotes the research of other scientists on campus. She is recognized as a superb mentor of young investigators with a strong record of training students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty, and is a founding member of the UTMB Academy of Mentors.
Andrea Wirt and Helen Appelberg answer questions about dementia
By Galveston Daily News 03/23/14
UTMB's Andrea Wirt and Helen Appelberg answer questions about dementia and offer advice. "What can families do to bring spiritual comfort to their loved ones with dementia?" Appelberg: Those with dementia enjoy attending their place of worship and being part of their church family. Most often they can recall the words and are deeply comforted by singing familiar hymns and religious songs they sang in their place of worship during their childhood. It is also calming and nurturing to have someone say familiar prayers with them and read religious stories to them. [Note: Paid subscription required. Contact Marketing and Communications for details.]
The risk of high-protein diets
By Wall Street Journal 03/12/14
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.
CPRIT funds UTMB $3.2 million in continuing effort to study cancer screening outcomes in Texas
By BioNews Texas 03/07/14
One of the most recent high-profile Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas awards has gone to UTMB, which will receive more than $3.2 million in new funding to continue research efforts to collect comprehensive data relating to population research on cancer treatments and outcomes in Texas. The grant comes as part of a larger collection of research grants awarded to a host of top Texas-based research institutions that will give them the necessary funding to continue previously CPRIT-funded cancer research. The ongoing study spearheaded by UTMB is titled the "Comparative Effectiveness Research on Cancer in Texas," and will be able to continue for the next two years. The study, which is headed by Dr. James S. Goodwin, vice president and chief research officer at UTMB, also includes researchers from MD Anderson, Rice University and the Texas Cancer Registry, in addition to a team of UTMB researchers supporting Goodwin's efforts. Over the next two years, the consortium of researchers will continue their look into how breast, colon, and prostate cancer screening is administered throughout Texas - specifically emphasizing any correlation between patient outcomes and patients' access to varying quality levels of cancer treatment care. The news also appears in the Bay Area Citizen and Phys.org.
10 medical tests to avoid
By AARP Bulletin 03/01/14
Most people should have screening for colon cancer at 50 and then every five to 10 years after that, if the first test is normal. By age 75 - if you've always had normal colonoscopies - you can stop taking this test altogether. That should be good news, because a colonoscopy can cause serious complications in older people. "Just the preparation for colonoscopy can be exceptionally harsh," says UTMB's Dr. James S. Goodwin, who studies overuse of colonoscopies. Some patients become incontinent or experience weeks of pain, diarrhea and constipation. In worst cases, the procedure can perforate the colon. Despite such risks, recent studies have found that substantial numbers of people over 75, even over 85, are still getting screening colonoscopies.
Months after rehab, knee and hip patients keep improving
By Chicago Tribune 02/17/14
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, PhD, OTR told Reuters Health. "In a sense, these patients become their own physical therapists," he said. Ottenbacher directs the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB.
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