Aging and Resilience Seminars Point to Larger NIH Funding Effort, Pepper Center Pilot Grants

Illustration of leaves on trees shaped as human heads changing colors to indicate agingThe University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, UA Center on Aging and UA BIO5 Institute are sponsoring an inaugural “Aging and Resilience Seminar Series,” starting tomorrow, as part of an effort to land Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Center (OAIC) grants from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The seminars start tomorrow, Aug. 28, noon-1 p.m., in BIO5 Room 103, with a light lunch served.

Speaking at the inaugural seminar will be:

  • Dr. Mindy FainMindy J. Fain, MD, on “Integration of Research and Clinical Care” | Dr. Fain is the Anne & Alden Hart Professor of Medicine; chief of the UA Division of Geriatrics, General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine in the UA Department of Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson; co-director of the UA Center on Aging, and co-director of the Arizona Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program, and
  • Janko Nikolich- Žugich, MD, PhD, and Zhao Chen, PhD, MPH, on “CHiiLi (Consortium to Hasten recovery from Injury and Infection in older adults Leading to Independence) Project Update, Training Opportunities, and Functional Measures” | Dr. Nikolich- Žugich is professor and chair of the UA Department of Immunobiology, UA College of Medicine – Tucson; co-director of the UA Center on AgingDr. Janko Nikolich- Žugich and Zhao Chen; and associate director of the center’s Biology of Aging Research Program, while Dr. Chen is professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the college of public health; and a Biology of Aging Researcher and member at the UA Center on Aging.

Click here to learn more about the above lectures ►►►

NOTE: At the Aug. 28 seminar, a request for applications (RFA) was issued for "Internal Pilot Competitive Submission Projects in Aging Research." This is the core activity of the CHiili research effort and includes, but is not limited to projects involving immune parameters, respiratory, pain, trauma and sepsis processes and conditions. The awards include CHiiLi Career Development Award (1-year independent research project for up to $75,000) and ChiiLi Pilot Experimental Scientific Projects, or PESPs (1-year independent research project for up to $35,000). Submission deadline: 5 p.m., Oct. 1, 2018. Questions? Contact or (520) 626-2526 for guidelines.

Dr. Jay Magaziner and Ken CovinskyOther seminars are scheduled for Sept. 18 (with the University of Maryland’s Jay Magaziner, PhD, here to learn more), Oct. 23 (with UCSF’s Ken Covinsky, MD, MPH click here to learn more) and one in November that will include multiple presentations by UA researchers funded through the seminar series sponsors.

Dr. Chen, who is co-director of the seminar series, said an executive committee that includes her, Drs. Fain and Nikolich- Žugich, her seminar series co-director Sairam Parthasarathy, MD (professor of medicine; interim chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine; director, UAHS Center for Sleep and Circadian Science, and medical director, Center for Sleep Disorders, Banner – UMC Tucson), and others are part of a large effort looking to position the UA not just for Pepper Center Pilot grants but to eventually gain the coveted designation as a Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Center.

About the seminars, Dr. Chen said, “We as a group came up with the idea for it and are developing a pilot project that will tie into the training program for clinical research. We eventually would like to get the larger Pepper center grant. This would just be a small part of that effort,” she added.

Karen LutrickKaren Lutrick, a senior manager in research support for the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, serves as research manager for the endeavor that she said is “something we’ve been working on for about a year.” The goal is to land initial funding within three years. That will require a massive multidisciplinary effort to marshal resources and will only be an initial step toward the UA Health Sciences becoming a Claude D. Pepper OAIC.

“Oh, we’re years and years and years away,” Lutrick said. “You sort of have to be functioning as a center for a few years to get the funding. And it’s very competitive. You’ll have to beat out someone else for that designation who also has been doing this for 20 years or more.”

She added that a website for the Pepper initiative will be up and running in a few weeks, tied to the UA Center on Aging website.

Dr. Parthasarathy expressed excitement about the group’s goals and opportunities for research.

Dr. Sai Parthasarathy and Christian Bime“Every organ system ages and we are very interested in what we can learn to improve quality of life as longevity among our aging population grows,” he said. “For that reason, this is a very important seminar series that will position the UA to do important work in aging as it applies to a host of different disciplines.”

He noted that Christian Bime, MD, an assistant professor in the pulmonary division and medical director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Banner – UMC Tucson, has received funding through this Pepper initiative and likely will be presenting at the November seminar.

The Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers (OAIC) program was established in honor of its namesake and late Florida Congressman and U.S. senator (who died in 1989) to establish centers of excellence in geriatrics research and research career development to increase scientific knowledge leading to better ways to maintain or restore independence in older persons. There are 15 currently active OAICs as well as a Pepper National Coordinating Center based at Nashville’s Wake Forest University. A listing of those OAICs, their achievements and other pertinent information can be found on the National Pepper Center website.

Additional information can be found at the NIH Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology webpage.

About the UA Center on Aging
The mission of the University of Arizona Center on Aging (ACOA) at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson is to enable older adults to live healthy and functional lives through coordinated programs in research, education, outreach and patient care. Established in 1980 as one of a network of Long Term Care Gerontology Centers authorized by the Older Americans Act, the ACOA was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents as a Center of Excellence at the UA Health Sciences in 1991. It is affiliated with the Division of Geriatrics, General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine within the UA Department of Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, one of five UA Health Sciences colleges. For more information, visit

Release Date: 
08/27/2018 - 5:00pm