Pilot and Developmental Projects Program

The Pilot / Exploratory Studies Core promotes scientific innovation by supporting new research. 

The Pepper OAIC funds one-or two-year pilot and developmental projects with budgets of up to $50,000 per year, and also small exploratory projects with seed money budgets of up to $10,000. UTMB investigators are encouraged to submit pilot research proposals in the area of aging, physical function and recovery from illness in older adults. Proposals from any domain of translational research (T1-T4) are welcome. Areas of research may include but are not limited to: basic science, clinical trials, patient-centered outcomes, and population health. The purpose of this pilot funding is to support aging-related research that will lead to external funding. Pilot awardees will have access to laboratory, statistical and clinical research resources.


Proposals are encouraged from all investigators interested in initiating studies on aging.



  • Tatiana Moro, PhD, Nutrition & Metabolism, Role of Skeletal Muscle Pericytes in the Angiogenic and Myogenic Response to Exercise in Older Adults
  • Andrew Murton, PhD, Surgery, Oral Deuterium Oxide Consumption as an Approach to Assess Changes in Habitual Metabolic and Cellular Function with Age


  • Roberto Garofalo, MD, Microbiology & Immunology, Pathogenesis of Lung Inflammation in RSV Infection
  • Ickpyo Hong, OTR, PhD, Department of Occupational Therapy, Development of a Cross-National Independence Measure for Asian Stroke Survivors
  • Elizabeth Lyons, PhD,  Nutrition & Metabolism, A Web-Based Active Video Games Intervention in Aging Breast Cancer Survivors
  • Vineet Menachery, PhD, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Parabiosis and Age-dependent Viral Pathogenesis
  • Andrew Murton, PhD, Surgery, The Impact of Age on an Obesity-Induced Muscle Anabolic Resistance and the Potential Benefit of Stimulating Lipid Oxidation


  • Rachel Deer, PhD Rehabilitation Sciences, Validating a Screening Tool for Sarcopenia Using a Model for BIA Analysis
  • Theodore Graber, PhD, Rehabilitation Sciences, Aging Skeletal Muscle and Sarcopenia in the Murine Model
  • Mansoo Ko, PhD, Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology, Initiating Gait with the Non-Paretic Limb Affects Walking Performance in People with Hemiparesis
  • Cynthia Li, PhD, Department of Occupational Therapy, Functional Trajectory and Successful Community Discharge in Older Adults


  • Emily Arentson-Lantz, PhD, Nutrition & Metabolism, Characterization of Mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species Production in Skeletal Muscle of Older Adults during Inactivity
  • Brian Downer, PhD, Rehabilitation Sciences The Hispanic Dementia Risk Reduction Trial: A Dementia Risk Reduction Intervention for Hispanic Adults
  • Hemalkumar Mehta, PhD, Surgery Potentially Inappropriate Medications and Claims-Based Functional Status in Older Adults


  • E. Lichar Dillon, PhD, Endocrinology, Cycled Testosterone Therapy to Improve Physical Function in Frail Nursing Home Residents
  • Steven Fisher, PhD, Physical Therapy, Fall Risk Reduction in the Elderly Through the Physical Therapy Management of Incontinence
  • Christopher Fry, PhD, Nutrition & Metabolism, Satellite Cell Regulation of Fibrogenic/Adipogenic Progenitor Cell Activity in the Development of Skeletal Muscle Fibrosis during Aging
  • Lynne Hughes, PhD, PT, Physical Therapy, Effectiveness of a Physical Therapy Intervention in Patients with Pneumonia, COPD, and Hyperkyphosis
  • Sara Nowakowski, PhD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Effects of Inactivity and Rehabilitation on Sleep in Bedridden Older Adults