Florida has the largest proportion of persons aged 60 years or older in the nation, and this age group represents the fastest-growing segment of the population in the country. Therefore it is critical that we, as the University of Florida Institute on Aging, address the health concerns of this portion of our population. In this spirit, we are proud to have received funding from the National Institute on Aging to establish the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC). The mission of the University of Florida Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) is twofold:
1) to optimize older persons’ physical performance and mobility through interdisciplinary approaches;
2) to train new investigators in aging and disability research while developing their leadership qualities.
Our goal is to enhance late-life health and independence, with a special focus on mobility. To accomplish our mission, our strategy is to attract studies and inventive investigators from diverse behavioral, clinical, basic, and technological science disciplines with a common research focus: “mobility and prevention of disability.” Traversing the entire spectrum of biomedical investigation, including molecular biology, animal studies, clinical research, behavioral sciences, epidemiology, and engineering, our research effort addresses the OAIC’s general goal: to increase scientific knowledge that leads to better ways to maintain or restore the independence of older people.
Our research objectives are to 1) assess, using translational research (among diverse disciplines), the biological, co-morbid, psychosocial, behavioral, and other factors that contribute to physical function decline, loss of mobility, and progression toward disability; and 2) develop and reliably test, in clinical and preclinical studies, interventions that target mobility to prevent, delay, or recover the age-related declines in physical function. Our educational objective is to train future leaders in clinical translational research on aging.
To meet these objectives the proposed OAIC trains Junior Scholars and supports investigators, resources, services, external studies, development projects, and pilot/exploratory studies through seven integrated cores:
• Leadership and Administrative Core;
• Research Education Core;
• Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core;
• Clinical Research Core;
• Metabolism and Translational Science Core;
• Biostatistics Core; and
• Data Science and Applied Technology Core.
A relevant strength of the proposed OAIC is the concerted action of the interdisciplinary cores, projects, and investigators who address one common research focus spanning the entire spectrum of biomedical investigation.