Overview. The overarching purpose of the UCLA Pilot Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) is to promote innovative basic, clinical and translational research, conducted by collaborating teams of junior and senior investigators, that falls within the UCLA's research theme and carries out the Center's goals. These studies will have one or more of the following objectives: a) provide preliminary studies on which subsequent, larger basic or clinical investigations will be based, b) develop new basic or clinical methodologies that surmount critical barriers to progress in a given discipline, thus opening new research avenues;c) develop novel multidisciplinary research approaches to address complex geriatrics research questions;d) accomplish bidirectional basic and clinical sciences translation;and e) identify diagnostic and/or treatment strategies that bring discoveries to the bedside in order to improve health and optimize function of geriatric patients. Leadership. Gail A. Greendale, MD, Professor of Medicine/Geriatrics, who conducts research in menopause, mammographic density, osteoporosis, &physical functioning, will lead the PESC multidisciplinary team. The co-leaders will be Rita Effros, PhD, Professor of Pathology/Laboratory Medicine, who studies immunosenescence and Peifeng Hu, PhD, MD, Assoc. Professor of Medicine/Geriatrics, who studies relations among biomarkers, psychosocial factors and health outcomes in older adults. Pilot Processes. There will be clear processes for selection of full pilots, monitoring progress of pilots, and developing pilots into independently funded research awards. Selection will consist of a staged process that includes a request for proposals;request for full applications from meritorious applicants;and a series of reviews culminating with final selection by the Executive Committee, External Advisory Board and External Selection Panel. Each pilot will be monitored by a PESC liaison;monitoring will include monthly reports;quarterly meetings with the liaison;annual presentation at the OAIC Seminar Series;and annual presentation to the External Advisors. There will also be a rapid pilot program for which we have set aside $25K to make awards during year 1. The rapid pilot program will make fast-turn-around grants of up to $10,000, to allow the research of junior investigators to advance expediently. Pilots. Three full pilots are proposed. These are: 1) Gene expression analysis of age-related, focal muscle mitochondrial defects;2) Mandibular vs. long bone marrow stromal cell based therapy for implant placement;3) How do new models of care for older adults spread into routine practice?
The infrastructure provided by the PESC is an essential building block in the creation of a geriatrics-focused research environment. The PESC, by offering pilot funding and research mentorship, will foster the development and translation of emerging science, serve as a stepping stone for new researchers beginning a career in aging and attracting established researchers to geriatrics research. Thus, the PESC will play a critical role in the creation of new scientists and new science aimed at discoveries to help elders age better.
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