UCLA Geriatrics and Gerontology Research


Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center

Established in 1991, the UCLA Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) is designed to maintain and restore the independence of older persons. The UCLA Center's theme, "Preventing Disease and Disability in Vulnerable Populations: a Translational Approach" emphasizes research that extends across the full spectrum from T1 to T2 translational research.  Within this theme, an important focus of the UCLA OAIC is on developing and understanding interventions that reduce inflammation.

We define basic sciences broadly, recognizing that biologic sciences (e.g., molecular biology and immunology), physical sciences (e.g., biomechanics), and social sciences (e.g., cost-effective analysis, behavioral theory) are all fundamentals upon which clinical interventions are derived and evaluated.

In the UCLA OAIC paradigm, basic biomedical research informs clinical research and clinical research informs basic biomedical research.  Accordingly, the UCLA OAIC supports research that links these two types of research in both directions by 1) examining mechanisms underlying successful clinical interventions and 2) developing new basic science approaches that will lead to clinical interventions.  In addition to this emphasis on T1 research, the UCLA OAIC has expanded its strategy and reach to include the second stage of translational research, T2.  T2 research brings new knowledge into clinical practice and decision-making.

The Center stimulates scientific discovery through 4 Research Cores (Recruitment and Retention, Research Operations, Analysis and Cost-effectiveness, and Inflammatory Biology), a Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core, a Research Career Development Core, and a Leadership/Administrative Core.  Research Cores provide 4 levels of support (consultation, short-term, ongoing, and partnership on new projects) for external projects and internal OAIC activities.

The purpose of the Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core is to promote innovative basic and clinical research, conducted by collaborating teams of junior and senior investigators through pilots and exploratory studies, that falls within the UCLA OAIC's research theme.  Pilot funding generally starts July 1 and requests for proposal are announced in the fall.  The OAIC also has a rapid pilot award mechanism with quick turnaround for small pilots or to obtain additional data for grant submissions.  Requests for applications are generally announced in the winter.

The goal of the Research Career Development Core is to train junior faculty members to become future academic leaders in translational basic, clinical and health services research directed toward improving the independence of older persons.  A related goal is to attract new faculty from various disciplines into aging research.  The Career Development Award (CDA) program provides integrated training in translational mechanistic and outcomes research, and promotes faculty career development.  CDA funding generally starts July 1 and requests for applications are announced in the fall.

Funding Opportunities

Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core
Core director: Gail A. Greendale, MD

Pilot Program provides funding for:
• Studies that collect new data on human subjects ($50-100K) total over 1-2 years
• Running biomarkers on collected specimens/data analysis ($35K max) 1 year
• Analysis only pilots ($25K max) 1 year
• Basic science ($40-80K) total over 1-2 years

Rapid Grants Program provides funding for:
• Small aging-related basic, clinical and health services research projects
• Award size will range from $1,000 to $10,000, dependent on scope of work 
• The Principal Investigator (PI) must be a UCLA junior faculty member or advanced trainee
• A “rolling applications process” with rapid turnaround (1 week to 1 month) is used.  Funds must be expended by end of fiscal year in which they were awarded

Research Career Development Core
Core director: Alison A. Moore, MD, MPH

Mentored Career Development Awards:
• $25K per year for up to 3 years
• Individualized training programs
• Requires mentors match

Research Cores
• Recruitment and Retention
• Research Operations
• Analysis and Cost-effectiveness
• Inflammatory Biology

Support Provided by all Research Cores:

• Consulting  (e.g., few hours of advice, reading a paper or proposal)
• Short-term  (e.g., up to a couple of days of consultation, perform assays)
• Ongoing or long-term support  (e.g., purchase services)
• Partnership on new proposals

Research Services Funding Program

•  Support is provided for the use of services provided by the UCLA OAIC Research Cores.  Up to $10,000 of such support may be requested per Core
•  The principal investigator must be a UCLA faculty member conducting aging-related basic, clinical or health services research.
•  A “rolling applications process” with rapid turnaround (1 week to 1 month) is used.  Funds must be expended by end of fiscal year in which they were awarded.


Services Provided by the Research Cores

Analysis and Cost-Effectiveness Core (ACEC)
Core director: Arun Karlamangla, MD, PhD
Core co-director: Emmett Keeler, PhD

Services Provided:
• Design
• Statistical analysis
• Cost-effectiveness analyses
• Tutorials/workshops on state-of-the-art statistical analysis and comparative effectiveness analysis


Inflammatory Biology Core (IBC)
Core director: Michael Irwin, MD, PhD
Core co-director: Elizabeth Breen, PhD

Services Provided:
• Sample collection
• Measures of plasma/serum immune and/or inflammatory markers
• Cellular protein markers
• Molecular assays of cytokine production
• Consultation for referral to UCLA microarray core for genomic assessments of inflammatory activity and its cellular impact
• Telomere length and telomerase assays


Recruitment and Retention Core (RRC)
Core director: Catherine A. Sarkisian, MD, MS
Core co-director: Carol M. Mangione, MD

Services Provided:
• Identification of potential recruitment sites
• Review and modification of recruitment and retention plans for minority groups
• Introductions to specific community service/advocacy organizations
• Assistance with enrollment and retention in specific studies
• Education in the most effective strategies for recruitment and retention of minority elders


Research Operations Core (ROC)
Core director: Teresa E. Seeman, PhD
Core co-directors: Tomas Ganz, MD, PhD and Heather McCreath, PhD

Services Provided:
• Data collection support
• Training and hiring of data collection staff
• Conduct of study analyses
• Data management services
• Use of web and Access based applications for data management and tracking
• Proposal preparation
• Develop, review, and maintain data security procedures

UCLA OAIC General Questions

•  Lucio  Arruda  - Administrator
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•  David Reuben, MD - Director
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National Pepper Center Website: