Overview. The overarching mission 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, "Preventing Disease and Disability in Vulnerable Populations: a Translational Approach". Pilot studies will address at least one of the following objectives: a) provide preliminary studies that inform larger basic or clinical investigations;b) develop new basic or clinical methods that surmount critical barriers to progress in a discipline, thus opening new research avenues;c) develop novel multi-disciplinary research approaches to address complex geriatrics research questions;d) accomplish bi-directional basic and clinical sciences translation;and e) identify diagnostic and/or treatment strategies that will bring discoveries to the bedside. Leadership. Gail A. Greendale, MD, Professor of Medicine/Geriatrics, who conducts research in menopause, osteoporosis, and physical functioning, will direct the PESC. The co-director will be Rita Effros, PhD, Professor of Pathology/Laboratory Medicine, who studies T-cell biology and immunosenescence. Pilot Processes. The PECS will continue its rigorous procedures for pilot selection, monitoring, and development n o independently funded research awards. Selection consists 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 includes monthly reports;quarterly meetings with the liaison;annual presentations at the OAIC Seminar Series;and annual presentations to the External Advisors. In addition to awarding full pilots, the PESC will maintain its innovative rapid pilot program, which makes fast-turn-around awards of up to $10K to junior faculty and advanced trainees. Rapid pilots address a previously unmet need in the research development pipeline: quick access to funding for a discreet purpose, to allow the research of junior investigators to advance expediently. Pilots. Four full pilots are proposed: 1) Benefits of experience corps (a community-based, intergenerational intervention) in vulnerable, older minority adults;2) Do older adults experience greater health risks from living in disadvantaged neighborhoods?;3) Abnormal HDL function and atherosclerotic risk in rheumatoid arthritis;4) Identification of novel epigenetic and signaling targets for promoting p-Cell regeneration.
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 into 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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