Research Working Groups

Research in the Center on Aging and Health involves population-based and clinical studies of aging-related conditions. COAH spans the full spectrum of aging research, from the biology of aging to health policy. It facilitates the translation of research discoveries into applications that will directly improve the health of older adults. The Center provides key infrastructure, such as the statistical data core and educational resources for research with older adults.

Research Working GroupDescriptionContactMeeting Occurrence
Biostatistics and Research Design

The Center on Aging and Health provides cutting-edge statistical and research design expertise in collaboration with other investigators in aging research. Our biostatistics and methodological experts are internationally known for their accomplishments in developing new methods for testing complex hypotheses and models. The recent establishment of a ‘cold room’ for Medicare claims analyses and other sensitive health data has expanded the Center’s analytic capabilities and infrastructure.


2nd Wednesday of each month 

11:00am – 12:00pm EST

Cognitive and Sensory Functions

We are seeking to better understand the relationship between sensory loss – primarily vision and hearing loss – and cognitive function in older adults. This includes research aimed at identifying mechanisms underlying sensory-cognitive relationships, as well as methodological approaches to measuring cognitive function in older adults with sensory impairments.

Alden Gross, PhD

3rd Monday of each month

11:00am – 12:00pm EST

ENGAGE Research Lab

We are a group of researchers dedicated to understanding changes in energy expenditure and physical activity with aging, and the corresponding effects on physical and cognitive health. For more information visit

Jennifer Schrack, PhD

Every other Thursday – Hybrid 

12:15pm – 1:15pm EST

Family and Social Resources

This group comprises an inter-disciplinary group of researchers investigating social determinants of health, including family, social, socioeconomic and caregiving resources.  Topics of interest to the group include both social determinants of aging-related conditions (i.e. disease, disability and dementia) and social determinants of healthy aging over the life course.  We seek to better understand and strengthen resources of older adults to prevent and manage aging-related conditions and to promote healthy aging.  Meetings provide timely feedback related to conceptualization of research questions, study design, psychometric measurement, study implementation, data analyses and interpretation of results.  Meetings also support collaborative projects.

Martha Abshire-Saylor, PhD, RN, FHFSA

Catherine Clair

4th Tuesday of each month via Zoom

8:30am – 9:30am EST

Frailty and Multisystem Dysregulation

An integral part of the research mission of COAH and the JHU Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) is to identify the causes of and treatments for frailty, a syndrome characterized by reduced strength, energy, and activity. The Frailty and Multisystem Dysregulation Working Group meets twice monthly to engage in scientific discussion, project planning, manuscript development, and funding strategies related to frailty science. Headed by the leadership of the OAIC, a core group of researchers from multiple disciplines (including geriatrics, cardiology, biostatistics, epidemiology, endocrinology, infectious diseases, and mental health) at Johns Hopkins and beyond convenes regularly to envision, develop, and advance research on important questions on the etiology, measurement, and amelioration of frailty, its consequences and the translation of effective strategies into clinical practice. This working group serves as a significant engine for propelling frailty related projects, including a number of recently funded NIH grants. In addition, it provides organization to support the development of international leadership in the field of frailty.

Brian Buta, MHS

2nd & 4th Wednesdays of each month

9:00am – 10:00am EST

International Approaches to Aging

We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers, of diverse cultural backgrounds, interested in understanding how different countries and cultures are addressing various aspects of aging.  Early focus areas include palliative care and end-of-life practices, caregiving, sensory impairment, cognition and dementia care.  We are evaluating how different countries around the world measure and collect data related to these topics, including harmonized data collected in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) database and its companion projects around the world.  This information has the potential to inform practices in the United States, and can provide opportunities for further research and funding.

Sneha Mani

3rd Wednesday of each month – Hybrid

11:00am – 12:00pm EST
Medicare Claims and EHR Analyses

The study of healthcare utilization is critical to identifying inefficiencies in resource allocation and potential cost savings as healthcare costs continue to rise. Outcomes that are important to patients such as function and quality of life are often not captured in traditional insurance databases, and specific healthcare utilization measures such as the number of days spent in hospital or emergency department visits are often poorly captured in epidemiologic survey studies.  The Center has recently established and Linked Administrative Data Resource (LADR) that includes a secure “cold room” designed to house highly restricted sensitive data such as Medicare claims that can address these important research questions concerning healthcare utilization. Linking administrative claims data with epidemiological studies of aging and clinical trials allows researchers to address research questions on healthcare utilization in innovative ways The Medicare Claims and EHR Analyses working group is very active with members from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health at Johns Hopkins as well as collaborators from other institutions. Currently researchers working on Medicare datasets linked to the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) and the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) project.

Marcela Blinka, PhD

4th Wednesday of each month – Hybrid

3:00pm – 4:00pm EST