Acquisition of relevant preliminary data is a critical initial step in the discovery process leading to publications and externally funded research grant proposals, and is often the most challenging step for junior investigators to accomplish. The Wake Forest University (WFU) OAIC Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) proposes a robust, multi-pronged, innovative approach to address this problem. The overall goal of the WFU OAIC PESC is to develop the key preliminary information needed to design definitive, externally funded, independent studies that will advance our insight into the pathways that affect physical function in support of the WFU OAIC theme: Integrating pathways affecting physical function for new approaches to disability prevention and treatment. This goal will be achieved by accomplishing the following specific alms to: 1) Solicit, foster, refine pilot / exploratory study proposals which address the OAIC theme;2) Manage the scientific review to select the most meritorious;3) Facilitate and support the selected studies via tight integration with the broad resources from OAIC cores and throughout WFU;4) Mentor awardees and monitor progress towards effective, efficient study conduct;5) Guide investigators in translating pilot / exploratory data into high-quality publications and externally funded grant proposals to fund definitive studies;6) Develop, implement, and disseminate innovative programs to overcome barriers to success in early-stage research, particularly for new investigators. The WFU PESC is highly effective in the management of its robust portfolio of pilot and exploratory studies. In the present cycle, PESC activity has accelerated significantly, resulting in 40 externally funded grants, totaling $45 million, and producing 181 peer-reviewed publications. In year 1 of the new cycle, PESC will support 4 innovative pilot studies led by promising junior investigators, covering a wide range of mechanistic translational research involving animal models and interventional clinical trials relevant to the OAIC theme. The PESC will also support exploratory studies to efficiently test specific hypotheses through analysis of data, biospecimens and bioimages banked from ongoing and completed studies. The WFU PESC also provides 6 specific, innovative services to overcome challenges in early-stage research, particularly by new investigators. The PESC co-leaders are highly experienced, independent investigators with complementary skills in collaborative, multi-disciplinary research, extensive leadership and NIH study section experience and proven commitment to developing new translational researchers in aging. Their combined efforts produced a solid record of achievement and will ensure the continued growth and success of the WFU OAIC PESC.

Public Health Relevance

The WFU OAIC PESC assists primarily junior investigators to develop and perform studies to provide the needed preliminary data to design subsequent larger, definitive studies. The PESC will also provide services that enable investigators to overcome barriers to getting started in pursuing a research question.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1-ZIJ-8)
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
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