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Aging and Health

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Research Career Development Core
Core Leader: Gary Gerstenblith, MD

The primary purpose of the Research Career Development Core (RCDC) is to increase the workforce of experts dedicated to scholarship on frailty and its translation into strategies to increase independence in older adults. The RCDC accomplishes this by identifying and selecting outstanding junior faculty investigators to pursue frailty-related discovery and by providing them with the comprehensive support necessary to develop independent research careers focused on such discovery.  The core provides mentorship, salary support, research resources and a community of scholarship to its primary awardees to assist their pursuit or solidify their emergence as independent investigators.

Overall, the RCDC provides both a focus for frailty- and aging- related training activities for junior investigators from the entire University, as well as more extensive support, training and mentorship to a select few whose careers we can pivotally aid, and who will emerge as aging and frailty focused independent investigators who will translate their expertise across disciplines and lead research in whose applications will improve independence in older adults.  This facilitates the junior investigators’ ability to apply basic research findings to clinical investigation and interventions, translate clinical findings into mechanistic studies, disseminate the results of clinical investigation to the health provider and broader community, and acquire the leadership and communication skills required to become academic leaders with independent research careers who can easily work across disciplines to create the highest quality, frailty-focused science. 

The specific aims of the RCDC are:

  1. To identify, attract, and select for career development support a diverse and interdisciplinary group of junior investigators from across JHU with the greatest potential to become outstanding research leaders focused on frailty and how to ameliorate it, and on maintaining   independence with increasing age.
  2. To provide the research infrastructure and salary support to these junior investigators so as to enable them to successfully bridge the critical transition to independent research leadership and grant funding.
  3. To provide each supported individual with mentorship individualized to his or her needs and to monitor the progress of the research project and career development. 
  4. To develop for each supported individual a program of subject-area, methodological and leadership training needed to equip them to excel in their career goals, and promote its successful completion. 
  5. To provide an academic home and an intellectual ‘stimulus zone’ for supported faculty as well as postdoctoral fellows, pre-doctoral students, and junior faculty working on frailty-related projects.

RCDC-Supported Investigators, 2013-2014 (Year 11)

agrawal-rcdc.jpgYuri Agrawal, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; Mentor: John Carey, MD.  Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery:
Dr. Agrawal will build on her recent pilot work to study the implications of specific vestibular impairments for postural instability, gait impairments, frailty and falls for older adults.

mcadams-rcdc.jpgMara McAdams DeMarco, PhD, Instructor, Departments of Transplantation Surgery and Epidemiology; Mentor:  Dorry Segev, MD, PhD, MHS, Associate Professor, Departments of Surgery and Epidemiology:
Dr. McAdams DeMarco aims to improve the clinical management older ESRD patients undergoing kidney transplantation (KT) through the development of adverse outcome metrics and risk prediction relevant to older adults. Generic approaches in KT poorly predict risk. In an ongoing cohort of older KT recipients the candidate will evaluate adverse geriatric outcomes such as activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) disability and frailty as a risk stratifier that has shown promise in her preliminary data.

Previous RCDC-Supported Investigators, 2003-2013 (Years 1-10)
Key Accomplishments
Available Resources
Pepper Scholars Program

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Dr. Tyesha Burks awarded Glenn/AFAR Postdoctoral Fellowship for Translational Research on Aging

OAIC project produces findings that mitochondrial DNA predicts frailty and mortality

COAH and OAIC participate with the Welch Center on new U01 award from the National Institute on Aging

Dr. Reyhan Westbrook, OAIC Postdoctoral Fellow, awarded 1st prize at the 7th Annual Research on Aging Showcase in the Bloomberg School of Public Health



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Please click here for more information about the online Frailty Assessment Tool.

The JHU OAIC is currently accepting proposals for research funding though its Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core, Biostatistics Core, and Biological Mechanisms Core.  Applications are due by July 10, 2015.

Please click here to learn about our Pepper Scholars Program, a monthly collaborative initiative for investigators interested in ongoing aging and frailty research at the Johns Hopkins OAIC.

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