At UAMS, we are constantly striving to improve the quality of life for seniors. Our Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging is honored to receive $5.5 million for a new research center to work toward improving standards of care for the elderly. The five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging establishes the Arkansas Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, one of 12 such centers in the United States.

Led by Jeanne Y. Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of our Reynolds Institute on Aging, this new center will be housed in expanded floors at the institute. The purpose of the grant is to provide a cornerstone for research that will help aging Arkansans remain independent and provide possibilities for regaining independence.

The center’s mission is to find ways to better maintain or restore independence in older persons by:

  • Studying the cause of declining skeletal muscle function and heart performance as people grow older and translating those findings to improve nutritional recommendations and standards of care
  • Introducing state-of-the-art research methods for studying protein metabolism to better enable basic molecular-based studies that result in clinical trials aimed at improving the health of aging Arkansans
  • Using novel interventions in the prevention and treatment of heart and skeletal muscle weakness
  • Promoting aging research by young scientists, and training new geriatricians and gerontologists to improve functional independence of older Arkansans through targeted therapeutic interventions

The Reynolds Institute on Aging houses several nationally known researchers in aging, and their work will be partially supported by the grant. Dr. Wei has more than 30 years’ experience conducting gerontological research. Her major research includes the effects of aging on the cardiovascular system, the biology of aging and mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction.

Researchers at UAMS will also collaborate with colleagues at the Reynolds Department of Geriatrics and the Center on Aging at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. Our center will provide an environment that supports and nurtures new and promising investigators, including geriatrician scientists, while increasing the scientific community’s interest in committing to pursue research in aging.

The 12 research centers honor the late Claude Denson Pepper. As a U.S. senator and U.S. representative from Florida, he advocated for legislation that would help improve and preserve the quality of life for Americans with advancing age. Each center has its own particular research interests. Some centers look at factors that contribute to disability, some study specific age-related conditions that lead to or increase risk for loss of function, and others design and test interventions that may prevent or delay disability.

Click here for a list of 2016 Pepper Center Seminar Speakers.

Read more about Claude Denson Pepper.