The training proposed in this NRSA contains both a practical research and didactic component. The broad aim of the research component is to determine the extent to which the presence and severity of metabolic syndrome (MetS) contributes to aging-related functional decline, and to examine whether this relationship is mediated by excess inflammation. Because maintenance of physical function is a critical factor in the ability of older adults to remain independent, the research component of this project is highly relevant to the mission of the NIA. The project will be accomplished via secondary analyses of data collected in the Health ABC Study, a prospective cohort of 3,075 well-functioning white and black elders (70-79 years), well characterized for MetS, with several indices of physical function and inflammation. Specifically, this project will (1) determine whether the presence and severity (number of components) of MetS is associated with lower physical function at baseline and with a decline in physical function over time in older adults;(2) determine whether the presence and severity of MetS is associated with inflammation at baseline and with changes in inflammation over time in older adults;and (3) determine whether, and to what degree, inflammation reduces the effect of MetS on physical function. Statistical methods to be used include logistic regression and mixed effects modeling, as well as mediation analysis. This project will provide a practical opportunity for the candidate to utilize the statistical and epidemiological skills she will learn as part of the proposed coursework (described below). The research will also provide the candidate with direct, practical experience in data management and longitudinal data analysis. For the didactic component, Dr. Beavers will complete a series of courses offered through the Master's program in Clinical and Population Translational Sciences at the Division of Public Health Sciences and Translational Science Institute at Wake Forest University in statistics, epidemiology, and clinical trials, such as Foundations of Clinical and Translational Science, Epidemiology, Clinical Trial Methods, and Applied Linear Models. Completion of these courses will provide a more comprehensive understanding of statistical and epidemiological concepts and clinical trial methodology, allowing Dr. Beavers to be able to conceptualize, plan, and execute clinical research in her future career. The research findings will provide better characterization of the relationship between MetS, inflammation, and physical function, which may assist in the development of preventive and therapeutic efforts for older men and women with functional disability, while the coursework in Clinical and Population Translational Sciences offers a unique opportunity to maximize the candidate's post-doctoral training at Wake Forest University and develop competencies in conduction and translation of clinical and population research.

Public Health Relevance

Maintenance of physical function is a critical factor in the ability of older adults to remain independent. Better characterization of the relationship between common preventable conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, and physical dysfunction is critical to efforts aimed at preventing disability. Given the growing demographic of persons aged 65 years and older, coupled with the economic and emotional burden related to age-associated loss of physical function, prompt identification of modifiable functional decline risk factors is of considerable public health concern.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F16-B (20))
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Dutta, Chhanda
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Beavers, Kristen M; Miller, Michael E; Rejeski, W Jack et al. (2013) Fat mass loss predicts gain in physical function with intentional weight loss in older adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 68:80-6
Beavers, Daniel P; Beavers, Kristen M; Lyles, Mary F et al. (2013) Cardiometabolic risk after weight loss and subsequent weight regain in overweight and obese postmenopausal women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 68:691-8
Beavers, Kristen M; Ambrosius, Walter T; Nicklas, Barbara J et al. (2013) Independent and combined effects of physical activity and weight loss on inflammatory biomarkers in overweight and obese older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 61:1089-94
Beavers, Kristen M; Hsu, Fang-Chi; Houston, Denise K et al. (2013) The role of metabolic syndrome, adiposity, and inflammation in physical performance in the Health ABC Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 68:617-23