2016 News Archive

New Physical Activity Grant

By SCoA Webmaster 12/14/16

Dr. Rasmussen

GALVESTON, Texas – ­The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has received a $6.6 million grant to take part in a national project that will analyze what molecular changes occur in people as a result of physical activity. The research could lead to people engaging in more targeted and optimized types of physical activity.

UTMB will be a part of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium and Blake Rasmussen, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Metabolism, will be the principal investigator. Preview Day: May 15, 2017

Read More:

This news also reported in Public Now, Genome Web, Targeted News Service and Galveston.com.


Professorships in Aging Awarded

By SCoA Webmaster 11/2017

Dr. Paddon-JonesDr. Sheffield-Moore

Congratulations to Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD for appointment to the Sheridan Lorenz Distinguished Professorship in Aging and Health. Dr. Paddon-Jones has been a UTMB faculty member since 2003. His research activities focus on the regulation of muscle metabolism, mass, and function in healthy and at-risk populations.

Congratulations to Melinda Sheffield-Moore, PhD for appointment to the Grace Bucksch Gnitzinger Distinguished Professorship in Aging. Dr. Sheffield-Moore joined UTMB's faculty in 2000. Her clinical research program is focused on investigating the systemic and skeletal-muscle specific endocrine and metabolic dysfunction that accompanies cancer, aging, spaceflight, and traumatic brain injury.


Dr. Ottenbacher Receives ACRM Gold Key at Annual Conference

By SCoA Webmaster 10/30/16 - 11/04/17

Dr. Ottenbacher

The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) Annual Meeting was held Oct 30-Nov 4, 2016. The Center for Large Data Research in Rehabilitation (CLDR) hosted a booth and sessions by Drs. Ottenbacher and Graham.

Congratulations to Dr. Ottenbacher, recipient of the Gold Key Award, presented at the Henry B. Betts Awards Gala.


Dr. Swartz receives inaugural Linder Award

By SCoA Webmaster 10/27/16

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.

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.

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.


The 20th Annual Forum on Aging

By SCoA Webmaster 10/24/16

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

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

View photos: 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: Prevention of Falls

By SCoA Webmaster 10/19/16

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

The UTMB Center for Spirituality of Aging and the Sealy Center on Aging concluded 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 Dr. Bets Anderson.


Raising Funds to Erase Alzheimer's

By SCoA Webmaster 10/11/16

UTMB Internal Medicine and Sealy Center on Aging Team Members

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


Adverse drug responses cause thirty percent of older adults' hospitalizations

By KXXV-TV ABC 10/11/16

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 awarded $1.4 million to study opioid use in the elderly

By SCoA Webmaster 09/26/16

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

By SCoA Webmaster 09/26/16

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, and 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 appointed to National Advisory Board at the National Institutes of Health

By SCoA Webmaster 09/22/16

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 gives lecture for American College of Sports Medicine webinar

By SCoA Webmaster 09/21/16

Dr.Rachel Deer

Rachel Deer, PhD, 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.


Dr. Raji: Alzheimer's research offers hope

By Galveston Daily News 09/19/16

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


UTMB Presentations at 2016 International Conference on Aging in the Americas

By SCoA Webmaster 09/16/16

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

Two doctoral students, two postdoctoral 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

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

By MSN Lifestyle 09/15/16

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.


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

By Washington Post 09/11/16

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.


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

By SCoA Webmaster 09/01/16

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 400 scientific articles that have been cited more than 20,000 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.


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

By SCoA Webmaster 09/09/16

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 $2.7 million to identify new treatments for muscle loss in older adults

By SCoA Webmaster 08/05/16

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.


Rice U. Study: Texans are no better off in one city versus another for cancer treatment

By Rice University 07/25/16

photo of medical professional reading a tablet

Rice University Press Release:
Regions in Texas differ widely in adherence to recommended cancer treatment for elderly patients, according to a study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

These differences are not due to the availability of treatment specialists or the presence of teaching hospitals, the study found. The absence of consistent explanations for these treatment differences suggests that variations like these are likely to occur elsewhere nationwide.

"Texans are no better off in one city versus another in terms of treatment across a broad range of cancers," said Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at Rice's Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the institute's Center for Health and Biosciences, who co-authored the study. "One might have expected Houston residents to receive better treatment because of MD Anderson's presence, but any beneficial effects could be offset by a large number of elderly in Houston not being treated there." The research findings were published in the journal, BMC Health Services Research.

Read More: Rice U. Study: Texans are no better off in one city versus another for cancer treatment.


Dr. Paddon-Jones: Protein Absorption by Muscles & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

By SCoA Webmaster 07/18/16

Dr. Doug Paddon-Jones

Men's Health magazine spoke with Dr. Doug Paddon-Jones, Professor in the Department of Nutrition & Metabolism and Senior Fellow of the Sealy Center on Aging, about the amount of protein your body is able to absorb. "Skeletal muscle protein synthesis is maximized by 25 to 35 grams of high-quality protein during a meal," Paddon-Jones told the magazine.

Dr. Paddon-Jones also commented in an article that looked into health breakfast ideas. Dr. Paddon-Jones told the website that people eat a lot of foods, such as breakfast cereal, bagels, breads, that are loaded with refined carbohydrates.

Time Magazine quoted Dr. Paddon-Jones in their "You Asked" column where he answered the question, "What Happens If I Don't Eat Enough Protein?" Dr. Paddon-Jones compared the human body lacking enough protein to a termite-infested house. "Like that termite-ridden house that looks fine on the outside, your protein-deprived body will have grown weaker over a period of many years," Paddon-Jones says. "If the house is solidly built, it could take a long time for the termite damage to cause problems."


UT System Board of Regents appoint Dr. Freeman as Professor Emerita

By SCoA Webmaster 07/13/16

Dr. Jean L. Freeman

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will approve Dr. Jean Freeman's appointment as Professor Emerita during their Board of Regents meeting on August 4-5, 2016. The petition for this prestigious title came after Dr. Freeman's retirement in late January 2016.

Jean L. Freeman, Ph.D., Grace Bucksch Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor in Aging, Professor for the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, and Senior Fellow of the Sealy Center on Aging started at UTMB in 1992 as an Associate Professor for the Department of Internal Medicine.

During her time at UTMB, Dr. Freeman established the Master's degree and Ph.D. curricula in Health Services Research and assisted in designing a faculty development program that features advanced training in data analysis and research methods, research proposal development for NIH grants and scientific writing courses. Dr. Freeman also contributed to other UTMB departments and published more than 120 articles during her tenure.

For Dr. Freeman to be eligible, a recommendation from the Dean of the School of Medicine and approval by the UTMB President had to have been made after the formalization of her retirement. The final approval is made by the UT System Board of Regents at one of their regularly scheduled meetings.


Dr. Pappadis Presents Disability Research in S. Korea

By SCoA Webmaster 07/06/16

Dr. Monique Pappadis

Dr. Monique Pappadis, Assistant Professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences and Project Director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Project 1, represented UTMB at the 2016 Joint Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development (SWSD) in Seoul, South Korea from June 27-30, 2016.

At the conference, Dr. Pappadis participated as a speaker in a disability forum with three other international disability researchers, representing Malaysia, Thailand, USA/Vietnam. She also presented her research titled, "Psychosocial Adjustment to Disability among Middle-Aged Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury."

Dr. Monique Pappadis with disability researchers representing Malaysia, Thialand, and the USA/Vietnam.

MSTAR Student Wins Award at 2016 MSSRP Poster Session

By SCoA Webmaster 06/24/16

MSTAR Student Leyla Akhverdiyeva with Drs. Geroge Kramer, Monique Ferguson, and Lisa Cain

Out of 76 posters, MSTAR medical student Leyla Akhverdiyeva's poster titled, "Estimation of Appendicular Skeletal Muscle Mass using Percent Body Fat Determined by Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis in Acutely Ill Older Adults" was awarded 2nd Place for the Best Overall Poster at this year's Medical Student Summer Research Program (MSSRP) Poster Session in Levin Hall on June 22, 2016.

Akhverdiyeva's award was made possible by the UTMB Chapter of Sigma XI Scientific Research Society. Congratulations Leyla!

Left to Right: MSTAR Student Leyla Akhverdiyeva, Dr. Geroge Kramer (Director, Resuscitation Research Laboratory), Dr. Monique Ferguson (Co-Director, Medical Student Summer Research Program), and Dr. Lisa Cain (Assistant Dean, Faculty Affairs in School of Medicine)


UTMB Presentations at the 2016 MSTAR Student Conference

By SCoA Webmaster 06/21/16

Left to right: SCOA Director and MSTAR Mentor Dr. Elena Volpi; MSTAR Students Jason Livingstone, Leyla Akhverdiyeva, and Justin Howard; and SCOA Postdoc Rachel Deer

Three medical students presented their research project at the 2016 Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Student Conference on June 17, 2016 at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) in San Antonio, TX.

UTHSC San Antonio hosted the conference at their campus and had 10 students present as the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) and UTMB each had 3 students participate in the program this year.

Left to right: SCoA Director and MSTAR Mentor Dr. Elena Volpi; MSTAR Students Jason Livingstone, Leyla Akhverdiyeva, and Justin Howard; and SCoA Postdoc Rachel Deer. MSTAR Mentors not in photo are Christopher Fry and Guilio Taglialatela.


Health of Older Minorities Pre/Post Docs Present at 2016 CIRWH Poster Session

By SCoA Webmaster 05/16/16

Postdoctoral Trainee Marc Garcia with his poster titled IADL Active Life Expectancy by Nativity, and Age of Migration Among Older Mexican-Origin Women

Three SCoA T32 Pre and Postdoctoral Trainees showcased their research at the 2016 Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health (CIRWH) Poster Session on May 10, 2016.

SCoA Post-doctoral Trainee Marc Garcia, PhD received 1st place in the Women's Health in the Elderly category for his work titled "IADL Active Life Expectancy by Nativity, and Age of Migration Among Older Mexican-Origin Women". SCoA Pre-doctoral Trainees Joseph Saenz and Loresto Figaro also presented their posters at the event.


Dr. Ottenbacher Interviewed About Big Data Rehabilitation Collaboration

By UTMB Academic Enterprise 05/01/16

Big Data Collaboration Fules Rehabilitation Research

Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher; Director of both the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences and Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition (CeRPAN), and SCoA Associate Director, was featured in the Spring 2016 issue of UTMB's Academic Enterprise publication.

The article dives into Dr. Ottenbacher's involvement with the creation of a clinical research component and doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Sciences in the School of Health Professions. Dr. Ottenbacher is quoted saying that "Rehabilitation and recovery is holistic, not organ-based - it involves the whole person."

The latter part of the article focuses on UTMB's collaboration with Cornell University and the University of Michigan to establish the Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR) and describes the Center's main objectives: identifying and accessing large data sources, managing and analyzing large datasets, and archiving and sharing research data with other investigators.

Read: Big Data Collaboration Fules Rehabilitation Research

Source: UTMB Academic Enterprise


Aging Boom

By Galveston Daily News 04/20/16

Participants hopping on the bus to attend the Abundant Living conference in early March 2016

Health care providers face rapid change as population ages. The number of baby boomers now entering older age is a challenge for the health care industry. UTMB’s Dr. Elena Volpi is a contributor for the story saying there is a new focus on health span instead of life span. Read more >>

Note: Paid subscription required to read full article. Contact UTMB Media Relations for more details.


RSVP Recognized by Local Mayors

By SCoA Webmaster 04/18/16

2015: Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters presents Proclaimation of National Service to RSVP volunteers

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Galveston County (RSVP) recently participated in the Mayor's Day of Recognition of National Service on April 5, 2016. Mayors from all of the cities within Galveston County participated in supporting the RSVP program and volunteers and used traditional and social media to highlight the value of national service to the nation's cities and counties.

The UTMB Sealy Center on Aging has supported RSVP of Galveston County since 2002. RSVP is one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over. Volunteers are engaged in projects supporting food and diaper banks, veterans, adult day programming, LGBT youth and adults, Meals on Wheels, health education and many other areas.


Geriatric Nurse Practitioner & SCoA Fellow Andrea Wirt Receives DAISY Award

By SCoA Webmaster 04/15/16

Andrea Wirt, MSN, RN gets recognized for DAISY Award

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and SCoA Fellow Andrea Wirt received the DAISY Award and was recognized for her excellence in Nursing on April 14, 2016.

The DAISY award is part of the DAISY Foundation's program to recognize the inspired effort nurses put forth every day. Intended primarily for nurses engaged in direct patient care, it may be given to other nurses who affect nursing care or patients in a significant way.

Congratulations Andrea!


PCOR Community Workshop
Pilot Project on Elder Disaster Preparedness

By SCoA Webmaster 04/14/16

Workshop Event Photos

Dr. James Graham, PhD helped to facilitate "A Guide for Community‐Based Planning: A Continuum of Care Model for Caring for Elders During Disasters," a workshop for healthcare workers and those interested in healthcare continuum for elders in the local community on April 13, 2016 in Texas City.

The workshop was sponsored by the Galveston County Health District. Dr. Graham is a pilot project PI from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research in the Elderly program and a Rehabilitation Sciences Associate Professor at UTMB.

View Event Photos
Download more info:
Community Workshop (pdf)


Testosterone therapy decreases hospital readmissions in older men with low testosterone

By The Guidry News 04/13/16

New Testosterone Study featured on Mayo Clinic Proceedings

A new large-scale population-based study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston showed for the first time that older men using testosterone therapy were less likely to have complications that require them to go back to the hospital within a month of being discharged than men not using this therapy. The study is currently available in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Using nationally representative SEER-Medicare linked data, the researchers identified 6,372 men over 66 with low testosterone who were hospitalized at least once between January 2007 and December 2012. The distribution of age, ethnicity/race and marital status were comparable between testosterone users and nonusers. Read more >>

Authors of this paper include SCoA's own Jacques Baillargeon, Rachel Deer, Yong-Fang Kuo, Dong Zhang, James Goodwin and Elena Volpi. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


MHAS Findings Presented at Population Association of America Meetings

By SCoA Webmaster 04/09/16

Cesar Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Brian Downer, and Joseph Saenz presenting posters at the 2016 Population Association of America annual meeting

Three posters from UTMB focusing on different waves of the Mexican Health and Aging Study were showcased at the Population Association of America annual meeting in Washington D.C. on March 30 - April 2, 2016. These posters represent 3 out of 1000 that were selected to present at the meeting.

SCoA Predoctoral Trainee Joseph Saenz received 1 out of 50 prestigious poster awards for his collaborative work titled "Mortality Following Spousal Loss Among Older Mexicans". Former SCoA Research Scientist Cesar Gonzalez-Gonzalez and Rehabilitation Sciences Assistant Professor and former SCoA Postdoctoral Trainee Brian Downer also presented their work on MHAS.


Dr. Micah Drummond Awarded the Vernon R. Young International Award

By SCoA Webmaster 04/04/16

Dr. Micah Drummond, PhD

Dr. Micah Drummond, PhD received the Vernon R. Young International Award for Amino Acid Research on April 3, 2016 at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, California. The award is given for a single outstanding piece of research or for a series of papers in a related area on amino acid metabolism.

Dr. Drummond has been committed to aging and protein metabolism research since 2006 beginning as a postdoc fellow at UTMB under the mentorship of Drs. Blake Rasmussen and Elena Volpi. Currently, Dr. Drummond is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah... Read more >>


Dr. Wong Selected to Serve on Precision Medicine Initiative Review Panel

By SCoA Webmaster 03/25/16

Annual Forum on Aging winners posing with SCOA Leadership

Dr. Rebeca Wong has been selected to serve as a review panelist for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) along with other senior scientists around the US. President Obama announced this cohort program in his State of the Union address in January 2015 with the intention to "extend precision medicine to all diseases by building a national research cohort of one million or more U.S. participants".

Those selected to serve on the review panel are senior scientists with expertise in longitudinal health studies and health of minority elderly. Dr. Wong will be tasked with reviewing the centers' recruitment of non-volunteer participants. These centers will recruit the bulk of the PMI participants and ensure broadly representative sampling reflective of the diversity of the entire US population for the PMI cohort.


Volpi & Protas Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Sports Medicine

By Galveston Daily News 03/08/16

Elena Volpi, PhD and Elizabeth Protas, PhD

Last week, the Texas American College of Sports Medicine honored SCoA Director Dr. Elena Volpi and School of Health Professions Dean Dr. Elizabeth Protas during the group's annual meeting.

Dr. Volpi received the group's Honor Award for her "outstanding contributions to exercise and sports medicine." Dr. Protas received the group's Service Award for "significant service" and for serving as the group's president and executive director.

Dr. Elena Volpi accepting the TACSM Honor Award

SCoA Director and Senior Fellows Meet Italian President

By SCoA Webmaster 02/12/15

SCOA Director and Senior Fellows meet Italian President

Sealy Center on Aging director, Dr. Elena Volpi, and Senior Fellows, Giulio Taglialatela, Roberto Garofalo and Nicola Abate, met the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella at a private meeting for Italian research leaders organized by the Italian Consulate in Houston.


New Diabetes Study in Publication

By SCoA Webmaster 02/01/16

Diabetes Study featured on Gerontologist/Oxford Journals

Congratulations to Drs. Brian Downer, Amit Kumar, Hemalkumar Mehta, Soham Al Snih, and Rebeca Wong on their publication in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias titled "The Effect of Undiagnosed Diabetes on the Association between Self-Reported Diabetes and Cognitive Impairment Among Older Mexican Adults".

"Great! An important study. Should get good reviews in the press to make those with diabetes, as well as other risk factors you document more attentive to the health of their brain. And encourage others looking at the diabetes connection to be more inclusive of those with undiagnosed insulin resistance," - anonymous reviewer


Meet Sheri & Remus: Animal Assisted Therapy at UTMB and the Community

By SCoA Webmaster 01/30/15

Sheri Leavitt and her dog, Remus

Sheri Leavitt began volunteering at UTMB six years before Hurricane Ike with her first AAT partner, Gideon, who was also a border collie. In 2013, she returned to UTMB with Remus.

Sheri and Remus were certified through Pet Partners, a nonprofit organization that brings individuals together who share a common passion: a love of animals and people.

The certification includes a full day training course with basic obedience, followed by a separate temperament test to evaluate how the dog behaves in different situations. Once the team has passed the course, they are ready to offer their services at places like UTMB, Regent Managed Care, and Orchard Park.

Read more: Sheri & Remus; Friends of the ACE Unit - Center for Spirituality of Aging


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