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Pilot and Developmental Projects Program

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

2023 Call for Pilot Project Proposals

LOI Deadline: Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The NIH-funded UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (P30 AG024832) encourages investigators at UTMB  to submit pilot research proposals for translational aging research on physical function and recovery from illness in older adults. Proposals from basic science, clinical trials, patient-centered outcomes, population health, and any other area of translational research (T1-T4) are welcome.

High-priority areas of research include but are not limited to:

  • Geroscience and basic mechanisms of aging
  • Interventions to improve function and recovery from illness
  • Resiliency and functional reserve
  • Health disparities and health equity

The purpose of this pilot funding is to support aging-related research that will realistically lead to external funding. Pilot awardees will have access to research resources provided by the biostatistics and data management core, clinical research core, and metabolism and biology core. Projects will be funded for one year (07/01/2023 – 06/30/2024), with total annual direct costs not to exceed $50,000. If applicable, approval by UTMB’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or Institutional Review Board (IRB) is required by the pilot start date.

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

The pilot proposal selection will follow a 2-step process:

  • Step 1: Letter of Intent & Biosketch – Interested investigators should write a brief letter of intent describing in one page or less their research idea, the relevance to the Pepper Center theme, and how this idea would lead to external funding in aging. Letters & biosketches can be submitted to Stephanie Burt (Pepper OAIC Administrator) via e-mail to o Deadline for receipt of the letter of intent and biosketch is Wednesday, March 1, 2023. o Letters of Intent will be evaluated by the Pepper Executive Committee, and those selected will be asked to submit a full proposal.
  • Step 2: Full Proposal –If selected to submit a full proposal, a 5-page proposal in NIH format will be required outlining your research plan. If requested, a research mentor and biostatistician can be assigned to assist with the development of the proposal.
    • Deadline for receipt of the full proposal is Friday, April 14, 2023.
    • Full proposals will be evaluated by the Pilot Review Committee, comprised of UTMB Pepper Center leaders and experts in the field, and at least one independent external reviewer with specific expertise in the area of the pilot application.

Please feel free to share this announcement with your colleagues.

Questions should be sent to Stephanie Burt, by phone: at (409) 266-9675 or by e-mail: at

The UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center is funded by NIH grant #P30 AG024832.

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


  • Hoang T. Nguyen, PhD, School of Nursing, Functional Recovery of Asian Older Adults in Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Michael Sheetz, PhD, Department of Biochemistry & Microbiology, Rejuvenation of Senescent Cells In vitro and In vivo


  • Peter Cram, MD, Internal Medicine, Evaluating the Usability of a Novel Hip Fracture Web-app, My Hip-Fracture (My-HF)
  • Sagar Gaikwad, PhD, Neurology, Inflammaging: Role of HMGB1 mediated chronic inflammation in aging-associated cognitive dysfunctions and decreased lifespan
  • Tse-Chuan Yang, PhD, Preventive Medicine and Population Health, Neighborhood Structural Inequalities and Opioid Use Disorder among Older Adults: Before and During the COVID19 Pandemic Comparisons
Current Developmental Projects
  • Biostatistics & Data Management Resource Core
  • A non-parametric approach to predict the recruitment for a randomized clinical trial in an elderly inpatient setting
  • Alejandro Villasante-Tezanos, PhD and Xiaoying Yu, PhD
  • 2022-2024
  • Metabolism & Biology Resource Core
  • Is the 3D position of aging-related genes a biomarker for aging?
  • Guy Nir, PhD
  • 2022-2023


  • Antonella Casola, MD, Pediatrics, Aging of the Endogenous Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Pathway: A New Therapeutic Opportunity for Viral Pneumonia in Older Adults
  • Rachel Deer, PhD, Rehabilitation Sciences, Post-COVID Recovery Clinic: Study on Long-Term Health and Wellbeing
  • Kimberly Hreha, EdD, OTR/L, Rehabilitation Sciences, Implementation of a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program for Stroke
  • Mansoo Ko, PhD, Physical Therapy, Strength Training Treadmill Exercise to Reduce Compensatory Walking Patterns in Post-Stroke Hemiparesis
  • Neil Mehta, PhD, Preventive Medicine & Population Health, Identifying the Causes of the Stagnation in National U.S. Cardiovascular Disease Mortality
  • Monique Pappadis, PhD, MEd, Rehabilitation Sciences, Life-Space and Readmissions After Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease in Mexican Americans


  • 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