The overarching goal of the Northwestern Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC, a.k.a. `Pepper Center') is to generate innovative research to enhance primary care for medically complex, older adults with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) to achieve optimal health, independence, and quality of life. The Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) will be strategically linked to the Research Education Component (REC), to i) identify, select, and fund junior faculty, `Pepper Scholar' trainees with aging interests related to MCC; ii) mentor, support and monitor Scholars through a formidable research project that will provide them with sufficient preliminary data to help justify larger, independent grant proposals and successfully advance their career.
The specific aims of the PESC are to:
Aim 1 Fund, initiate, and conduct a first wave of Pilot/Exploratory Studies (PES 1-3) that will engage junior investigators in Northwestern's OAIC research enterprise and generate innovative research designed to improve function and quality of life for older Americans with MCC.
Aim 2 Implement a process by which the Northwestern OAIC will solicit, peer-review, select and prioritize, support, and monitor at least 9 PES in the first 5 years of the Northwestern OAIC.
Aim 3 Encourage the development of competitive, external grant applications leveraging Pepper Scholar PES and others doing related work at Northwestern, in Chicago and throughout the OAIC Network. Our Northwestern OAIC will award three waves of PES funding in Years 1-3 (minimum 9 awards, at least 3 per year); Center leadership held a competitive solicitation for pilot projects and have identified the 1st wave of Pepper Scholar PES: 1) Improving Transitions of Care from Skilled Nursing Facilities to the Community (Dr. Theresa Rowe, Assistant Professor, Geriatrics); 2) Intelligent Personal Assistant Depression Management for Homebound Older Adults ((Dr. Katherine O'Brien, Assistant Professor, Geriatrics); 3) An Emergency Department -based Deprescribing Intervention for Older Adults with MCC (Dr. Howard Kim, Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine). The PESC will leverage processes and systems developed by the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS) to manage PES competitions in Years 2 and 3; projects receive up to $100,000 direct costs over 2 years with in-kind methodological support from our OAIC Resource Cores (Design, Measurement, Analytics). Our trainee `pipeline' now extends to other academic institutions (UIC, Rush). Our Information Dissemination Core will also aid Pepper Scholars in widely disseminating PES findings.