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2019 News Archive

Meet & Greet: SCoA hosts community for informational session about aging research initiatives

By SCoA | May 30, 2019

photo of groupThe Sealy Center on Aging recently hosted over a dozen representatives from local area nursing, long term care, rehabilitation, skilled home health and personal assistance home care organizations. Dr. Volpi, director of the Center and leading aging researcher presented information about current research initiatives at UTMB.

If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to become involved in research, email aging.research@utmb.edu or call 1-800-298-7015.

Study finds persistently high rate of long-term opioid prescribing for older cancer survivors

By Galveston Daily News | May 14, 2019

photo of manUsing Medicare data, new findings show for the first time that the rates of long term opiate therapy - a 90-day or more supply of opioids per year - for older cancer survivors remain high for at least five years in cancer survivors. The study also showed that cancer survivors diagnosed after 2004 had higher rates of opioid prescribing compared with those diagnosed earlier than 2004. Read the article, "Long-Term Opioid Therapy in Older Cancer Survivors: A Retrospective Cohort Study," by senior author Mukaila Raji, MD, MS, FACP in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Camille Brightwell Publishes Cover of Translational Sports Medicine

By SCoA | May 1, 2019

TSM Cover and link to issueA microscopic image of muscle by PhD Student Camille Brightwell and colleagues was selected as cover image for the journal Translational Sports Medicine, April 2019. The cover image is based on the Original Article Moderate‐intensity aerobic exercise improves skeletal muscle quality in older adults by Camille R. Brightwell et al., DOI: 10.1002/tsm2.70. Camille is a current trainee in the Pre and Postdoctoral Training T32 - Health of Older Minorities program at SCoA. She is also a member of the CeRPAN Muscle Biology Laboratory.

Researchers from UTMB attend Annual Pepper OAIC Meeting

By SCoA | April 26, 2019

photo of groupResearchers from the Sealy Center on Aging attended the annual Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Center meeting April 25-26, 2019. Pictured left to right: Monique Pappadis, Yong-Fang Kuo, Kimberly Hreha, Brian Downer, Rachel Deer with son, Ken Ottenbacher, Elena Volpi, Blake Rasmussen and Rafael Samper-Ternent.

  • Rachel Deer, PhD presented, "Comparison of Malnutrition Screening Tools for Use in Hospitalized Older Adults."
  • Brian Downer, PhD presented, "Temporal Relationship between Physical and Cognitive Impairment and the Association with Mortality among Older Mexican Adults."
  • Rafael Samper-Ternent, MD, PhD presented, "Health Disparities in Medical Care and Social Support of Adults with Dementia."
  • Blake Rasmussen, PhD presented, “Role of Periodic mTORC1 Activation in the Prevention of Sarcopenia,” in a Biology of Aging breakout session moderated by Elena Volpi, MD, PhD.

This is why you need to eat more protein as you age

By Considerable | April 25, 2019

photo of womanDr. Volpi was recently quoted about protein:

“The total dose that you eat may not matter as much as the dose you eat at a given meal,” said Dr. Elena Volpi, a professor of geriatrics and cell biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. “If I eat too little protein during a meal, I may not adequately stimulate the uptake of amino acids into skeletal muscle. If I eat too much, say from a large T-bone steak, I won’t be able to store all of it away.”

Based on her research, Volpi suggests that older adults eat 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal. Practically, that means rethinking what people eat at breakfast, when protein intake tends to be lowest. “Oatmeal or cereal with milk isn’t enough; people should think of adding a Greek yogurt, an egg, or a turkey sausage,” Volpi said.

Dr. Wong Appointed to NIH Advisory Council

By Galveston Daily News | April 9, 2019

photo of womanDr. Rebeca Wong was appointed to the National Institutes of Health’s National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council. The council is charged with advising, consulting with, and making recommendations to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development director on matters relating to research and research support activities and functions. Wong is director of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborating Center on Aging and Health, professor of Socio-medical Sciences in Preventive Medicine and Community Health, and a senior fellow and Associate Director of the Sealy Center on Aging. Dr. Wong is also the Research Education Component Director at the new Texas RCMAR.

UTMB Researchers Seek to Block the Process of Muscle Wasting with Age

By SCoA | April 8, 2019

molecule graphicBy age of 60, 30% of US adults will suffer from sarcopenia, characterized by clinically recognizable chronic muscle degeneration manifesting as extreme fatigue, weakness, and greatly reduced physical activity. To combat this decline, UTMB investigators Drs. Stanley Watowich and Christopher Fry received funding for an innovative study of drugs to block the molecular processes involved. Read more about the new study, Development of NNMT inhibitors as novel interventions to activate quiescent muscle stem cells and improve age-related muscle degeneration.

Dr. Fry is a Core Investigator at SCoA and co-leader of the Metabolism and Biology Resource Core in the UTMB Pepper Center.

MHAS Hosts Visitors from Mexico

By SCoA | April 5, 2019

photo of groupThe Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS) hosted data management experts from the National Institute of Statistics (INEGI) and National Institute of Geriatrics (INGER) in Mexico. The group interviewed international users of the data – both basic and sophisticated users – to understand better how to meet the needs of the MHAS data users. As the MHAS data becomes more complex, including biomarkers, anthropometric measures, and samples for genetic analyses, new tools will be developed to mine the data.

Pictured left to right: (back): Eduardo Rioja, INEGI; Brian Downer, UTMB – the expert, sophisticated data user that was being interviewed; Juan Carlos Gomez Verjan, INGER; Javier Morales Escalante, INGER; Mario Becerril, INEGI; Otto Hahn Herrera, INGER (front): Rebeca Wong, UTMB; Alejandra Michaels, UTMB; Ricardo Ramirez Aldana, INGER

Texas RCMAR Website Now Online

By SCoA | April 5, 2019

photo of three people's hands clasped over table with earth colored patternsThe Texas Texas Resource Center on Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) website is now online. RCMAR provides mentorship to scholars with research focused on the health and aging in minority elderly populations with special emphasis on the Hispanic population in the United States and Mexico. The program is led by Kyriakos Markides, PhD, Yong Fan Kuo,PhD and Rebeca Wong, PhD. A call for pilot applications is due April 15, 2019.

UTMB Researchers Help Older Patients Recover Better

By SCoA | April 1, 2019

photo of woman A new paper, A Phase I Randomized Clinical Trial of Evidence-Based, Pragmatic Interventions to Improve Functional Recovery After Hospitalization in Geriatric Patients, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences shows potential new ways to speed up recovery from the hospital. UTMB researchers, led by Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, tried different strategies to boost the function of older adults hospitalized for an acute illness. Read press release from Sealy Center on Aging.

This article was the result of a pilot study performed in the Acute Care for Elders Unit at UTMB.

Lead author Rachel R. Deer, PhD is an Assistant Professor, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB. She also has appointments in the Division of Nutrition and Metabolism and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Deer is an RL5 Scholar in the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Center. Her research focuses on interventions to accelerate functional recovery from hospitalization in older adults.

Community Event for RSVP of Galveston County

By SCoA | March 19, 2019

photo of group of people seated in fellowship hall with a woman presenting Representatives from Galveston County non-profit organizations and the RSVP Volunteer Program presented about ongoing volunteer opportunities on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at Moody Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, Galveston, TX. Members of the community age 55 or older were invited to attend this free event. Presentations were given about Gulf Coast Center - Veteran Support Services, HIS Ministries, Libbie's Place Senior Day Program, MI Lewis, City of Santa Fe Resilience Center and others.

Learn more about the RSVP Program.

Lefeber Winter Series on Aging Videos Now Available:

By SCoA | March 1, 2019


UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging presents the 24th Annual Lefeber Winter Series on Aging January 29th through February 26th, 2019. Past videos available now. See presentations from national leaders in aging research in the 24th Lefeber Winter Series on Aging.

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

By SCoA | February 22, 2019

Jeff D. Williamson, MD, MHSJoin us for a special lecture, "Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS): What? How? Why?" presented by Olle Ljungqvist MD, PhD, Founder ERAS Society, Professor of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Surgery, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.

Monday, February 25, 2019
Caduceus Room, 6th Floor Admin Building

This event is co-sponsored by the Sealy Center on Aging, the John & Virginia S. Kennedy Lectureship and UTMB Faculty Group Practice.

New Study by UTMB Investigators and Colleagues Evaluates Interventions to increase Human Papillomavirus Vaccinations in the U.S.

By SCoA | February 20, 2019

photo of woman and syringe with bottles of colored liquidResearchers at UTMB, Emory University, and UT MD Anderson Cancer Center have published a meta-analysis of 17 randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experiments involving 68,623 children, adolescents, and young adults to answer the question: Do interventions increase the use and completion of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccinations in the U.S?

The researchers found that interventions – whether behavioral, environmental, informational, or a combination of strategies – did indeed increase both initiation and completion of vaccine regimens. The information is important because HPV vaccination requires either two or three doses to be effective. The number of doses depends on the age at which vaccination starts. Read the article, Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Interventions in the U.S.: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas awards grants
CPRIT, February 21, 2019
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas recently awarded grants totaling close to $96 million to advance the fight against cancer. UTMB researchers receiving grants were Abbey Berenson and Ana M. RodriquezHouston Business Journal and The San Antonio Business Journal also covered announcement of the awards. 

New Publication on Improving Muscle in Older Adults

By SCoA | February 7, 2019

photoDoctoral Student Camille Brightwell is the first author on a new publication, "Moderate Intensity Aerobic Exercise Improves Skeletal Muscle Quality in Older Adults," in Translational Sports Medicine. Additional co-authors include M.M. Markofski, T. Moro, C.S. Fry, C. Porter, E. Volpi, and B.B. Rasmussen.

Camille is a current trainee in the Pre and Postdoctoral TrainingT32 - Health of Older Minorities program at the Sealy Center on Aging. She is also a member of the Muscle Biology Laboratory affiliated with the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition.

New study finds that correct amounts of protein during inactivity helps protect muscle mass

By UTMB Newsroom | January 28, 2019

photo of groupGALVESTON, Texas – A new research study suggests that improving the quality of protein people eat while on bed rest could actually help protect muscle mass and burn fat.

“When a person is restricted to bed rest, even for a few days, they typically lose muscle and gain fat,” said Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones, a professor at UTMB and senior author of the study. “Simply eating more food and protein may help protect muscle, but will likely increase body fat. Conversely, eating less food may help avoid fat gain, but will accelerate muscle loss.  In this study, we were interested in finding a pragmatic, practical approach to help deal with this issue.” Read more at the UTMB Newsroom.

Read the article in the Journals of Gerontology, Improving Dietary Protein Quality Reduces the Negative Effects of Physical Inactivity on Body Composition and Muscle Function by Emily J Arentson-Lantz, PhD, Elfego Galvan, RD, PhD, Jennifer Ellison, PT, PhD, Adam Wacher, MD, and Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD.

For older adults, a protein-rich diet is important for health

By Washington Post | January 19, 2019

Dr. Elena Volpi, Director of UTMB's Sealy Center on Aging

There is a growing consensus that as people age they need to eat more protein-rich foods, particularly when dealing with a chronic or acute illness, or facing a hospitalization. During these stressful times, aging bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass. UTMB’s Elena Volpi said it is not just the total amount of protein one eats, but also how much they eat at a given meal.

“If I eat too little protein during a meal, I may not adequately stimulate the uptake of amino acids into skeletal muscle. If I eat too much, say from a large T-bone steak, I won’t be able to store it all away,” Volpi said.

This news is also covered in The Chicago Tribune, Gay San DiegoPittsburgh Post-GazetteThe Philadelphia Inquirer, and Salon.

New Metabolism Publication

By SCoA | January 17, 2019

mitochondria graphic

New publication, "Skeletal Muscle Specific Knockout of DEP Domain-Containing 5 Increases mTORC1 Signaling, Muscle Cell Hypertrophy, and Mitochondrial Respiration" by Ted G. Graber, Christopher S. Fry, Camille R. Brightwell, Tatiana Moro, Rosario Maroto, Nisha Bhattari, Craig Porter, Maki Wakamiya and Blake B. Rasmussen.

“In this study, we knocked out the gene for DEPDC5, which is a subunit of the GATOR1 protein complex (a negative regulator of mTORC1—the master regulator of protein synthesis), in adult skeletal muscle in mice. GATOR1 shuts off protein synthesis in the cell when there are insufficient amino acids present. When we depleted DEPDC5, we determined a constitutive activation of mTORC1 leading to muscle hypertrophy increased mitochondrial respiration without functional improvements. Thus, we uncovered a role for DEPDC5/GATOR1 in the regulation of mitochondrial respiration, hinting that amino acid sensing apparatus in the cell may be more involved in metabolic programming than previously thought.

Dr. Graber is a member of the Muscle Biology Laboratory team in CeRPAN and a postdoctoral trainee in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB.

Call for Pepper Pilot Proposals

By SCoA | January 11, 2019

document graphic

The UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center encourages UTMB investigators to submit pilot research proposals in the area aging, physical function and recovery from illness in older adults. Proposals from any domain of translational research (T1-T4) are welcome. Projects will be funded for one year, with total annual direct costs not to exceed $50,000.

Areas of research include but are not limited to: basic science, clinical trials, patient-centered outcomes, and population health.

New Grant Investigates Cognition & Quality of Nursing Facilities

By SCoA | January 9, 2019

photo of man

Rehabilitation Sciences Assistant Professor Brian Downer, PhD is the recipient of a K01 Grant, "Improvement in Patients’ Cognition and Relationship with SNF Quality Measures." from the National Institute on Aging of the NIH.

Dr. Downer is a Core Research Investigator at SCoA and a UTMB Pepper Center Scholar.

Congratulations, Dr. Downer!

Site managed by UTMB Sealy Center on Aging • Data Updated: May 2019