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 is “Preventing Disease and Disability in Vulnerable Populations: a Translational Approach”.

We define vulnerable populations as 1) underserved (i.e., low income, uninsured, and minorities) or 2) at increased risk of losing independence because of chronic diseases or conditions, advanced age, or functional impairment. We define translational as overcoming two barriers to effective research. The first is the inability to transfer new understandings of disease mechanisms gained in the laboratory into new diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive care. The second is the inability to get results from clinical studies into everyday clinical practice and health decision making. In studying vulnerable populations, the UCLA OAIC emphasizes research that extends across the full spectrum of translational research. Within this theme, an important focus of the UCLA OAIC is on understanding the role of inflammation in disease and disability.

The UCLA OAIC addresses health disparities that vulnerable older persons face because of 1) inadequate understanding of contributors (e.g., socioeconomic status, inflammation) to health and specific illnesses (e.g., HIV, sleep disorders, depression), 2) lack of effective preventive or therapeutic approaches (biomedical and behavioral), or 3) inadequate ability to get needed treatment to vulnerable older populations (e.g., cultural barriers, ineffective health systems). It also helps overcome the barriers between the promise of basic science research and the delivery of better health.

The Center stimulates scientific discovery through 4 Resource 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.

The UCLA OAIC specific aims are:

  • To provide intellectual leadership for research on the Center’s theme, Preventing Disease and Disability in Vulnerable Populations
  • To stimulate T1 and T2 translational research addressing the Center’s theme by consultation, provision of services, and collaboration through 4 resource cores
  • To engage the Los Angeles community in the conduct of OAIC research
  • To foster career development of future research leaders through Career Development Awards
  • To nurture novel ideas by funding rapid pilot awards
  • To collaborate with other NIH-funded (e.g., CTSI, RCMAR, L.A. CAPRA, Demography Center) and foundation-funded (e.g., Hartford Center of Excellence) efforts that support the UCLA OAIC’s mission

Support Provided by all Research Resource Cores
• Consulting (e.g., few hours of advice, reading a paper or proposal)
• Ongoing or long term partnership (e.g., purchase services)
• Partnership on new proposals
• Research Services Funding for the use of services from OAIC Research Resource Cores

Recruitment and Retention Core (RRC)
Core director: Catherine A. Sarkisian, MD, MS

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
• Access to Community Action Board of leaders in aging services network

Research Operations Core (ROC)
Core directors: Teresa E. Seeman, PhD
Heather McCreath, PhD

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

Inflammatory Biology Core (IBC)
Core directors: Michael Irwin, MD, PhD
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

Analysis & Cost-Effectiveness Core (ACEC)
Core director: Arun Karlamangla, MD, PhD

Services Provided:
• Analytical Support in Study Design (selection of analytic strategy and sample size/power issues)
• Interpretation and Accurate Description of Findings

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

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
• “Rolling applications process” with rapid turnaround (1 week to 1 month); funds must be expended by the end of the fiscal year in which they were awarded

Research Career Development Core (RCDC)
Core directors: Alison A. Moore, MD, MPH
Theodore J. Hahn, MD

Mentored Career Development Awards:
• $50,000 per year for up to 3 years
• Individualized training programs
• Requires mentors match

UCLA OAIC General Questions

Lucio Arruda – Administrator
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