The candidate, Mark S Redfern, PhD, is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh with a primary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering, and secondary appointments in Otolaryngology, School of Medicine, and Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Science. He is applying for a K07 to establish a new program in Human Factors of Aging to educate and support researchers, clinicians and students focused on improving the lives of older adults. A unique aspect of the curriculum is including design for cognitive decline and Alzheimer?s disease through a partnership with Pitt?s Alzheimer?s Disease Research Center (ADRC). Research often leads to ideas and findings that can have direct application to improve the lives of people of all ages. One limiting step in the translation of these new ideas is the incorporation of human factors in the design. Incorporating the human factors of aging is a critical component of any medical device design for an older population. There are physical (e.g. mobility, dexterity, anthropometry, strength, range of motion), sensory (e.g. vision, hearing, vestibular, proprioception) and cognitive considerations (e.g. memory, executive function, cognitive speed). Translation of ideas for older adults with cognitive decrements and Alzheimer?s disease is particularly difficult. The interactions of cognitive decrements with the physical and sensory changes associated with aging require special attention during design that to-date is not addressed. To address this need, Dr. Redfern, in collaboration with the ADRC, will establish a new and novel educational program with a curriculum to bring the necessary knowledge of Human Factors of Aging to the research community. This curriculum will address not only physical and sensory considerations, but also the unique requirements for adults with cognitive decline, and how they interact with other age-related issues. The long-term goal is to improve the development of new medical devices and interventions that are targeted to be used by/with older adults taking into consideration cognitive decline.
The specific aims are to: 1) partner with the ADRC to educate clinicians, researchers, and engineers in the human factors of aging to improve the translation of their ideas into effective interventions 2) support investigators with collaborative advising and consultation on special issues in aging-related applications and availability of the Human Factors in Medical Device Laboratory for development and evaluation of medical devices/interventions targeting for older populations; and 3) develop a multidisciplinary community of investigators with interests and expertise in human factors of aging; including experts from the ADRC. Dr. Redfern?s background as a senior NIH/NIA researcher, longtime educator in Human Factors/Ergonomics, and positions in academic leadership make him the ideal person to create a sustainable and effective program. The proposed partnership with the ADRC will bring together a unique strength found nowhere else.
(Include Public Health Relevance) (Three sentences) Public Health Relevance: Research often leads to ideas that can be translated to new devices, interventions and programs, particularly in aging. Understanding and implementing fundamental human factors principles and practice are critical to effective and successful translation. The Human Factors of Aging Program is designed to meet this need for researchers, clinicians and students who wish to have a positive impact on the lives of older adults through innovation and translation.