Research News

Center for Successful Aging funds first pilot projects

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published May 17, 2019

headshot of Bruce Troen.
“Funding pilot research with transformative potential is a key step toward making UB a national leader in aging research, and our inaugural awardees all reflect the UB CSA’s core values of interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement. ”
Bruce R. Troen, director
Center for Successful Aging

UB’s Center for Successful Aging (CSA) has awarded its first round of research funding for projects aimed at improving the lives of senior citizens through its UB Seeds for Innovation in Successful Aging (SISA) program.

CSA’s mission is to conduct community-responsive research among UB faculty and its community partners to solve challenges facing older adults.

The funded projects were selected from proposals solicited from throughout the university that were asked to address an important issue facing older adults through interdisciplinary research and a close connection with a community partner.

The funding of the first round of projects with internal support from UB marks a milestone in realizing the potential of the CSA, according to Bruce R. Troen, CSA’s founder and director, and professor and chief of UB’s Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine division in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Troen also sees patients through UBMD Internal Medicine at Erie County Medical Center, the Greenfields Rehabilitation Center and at the Veterans Administration Western New York Healthcare System.

“I have been looking forward to this moment since I came to UB in 2013,” he says. “Funding pilot research with transformative potential is a key step toward making UB a national leader in aging research, and our inaugural awardees all reflect the UB CSA’s core values of interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement. We look forward to announcing our second round of funding soon.”

The purpose of providing pilot funding is to generate preliminary results that will then help these projects receive external funding in the future.

The funded projects are:

  • The Deprescribing Network of Western New York for Successful Aging.

This project involves establishing a network focused on deprescribing, which is reducing the prescribing of unnecessary and sometimes harmful medications in the elderly. The goal is to generate approaches for intervening that will be evaluated by clinical practice teams, patients, caregivers and payers. Ultimately, an important outcome will be to make deprescribing a routine process in elder care.

Researchers are Ranjit Singh, associate professor of family medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Robert G. Wahler Jr. and Scott V. Monte, both clinical assistant professors in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Additional researchers are Susan LaValley, research assistant professor of family medicine, and Andrew Baumgartner, medical student, Jacobs School, as well as David M. Jacobs and Christopher Daly, both clinical assistant professors of pharmacy practice; Collin Clark, research assistant professor of family medicine and adjunct instructor of pharmacy practice; and Esra Mustafa, adjunct instructor of pharmacy practice.

  • A Novel Method to Measure Muscle Mass in a Community Sample of Postmenopausal Women in Western New York.

Later in life, sarcopenia, also known as frailty, is widespread, but the ability to measure its characteristics — low muscle mass, low muscle strength and low physical performance — has been difficult, either in clinical or community settings. The goal of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility, with participants from the Women’s Health Initiative, of a novel and recently developed method of measuring muscle mass called creatine dilution. The new method involves taking a single oral dose of a substance that later, through a simple urine test, can provide a reliable measure of an individual’s skeletal muscle mass.

Researchers are Hailey R. Banack, postdoctoral researcher, and Heather Ochs-Balcom, associate professor, both in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP); Jean Wactawski-Wende, SUNY Distinguished Professor and dean, SPHHP; Machiko Tomita, clinical professor, Department of Rehabilitation Science, SPHHP; and Matthew Mann, orthopaedic surgeon at Excelsior Orthopaedics.

  • The Effects of Voice-Command Technology on Loneliness and Depression Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults with Driving Cessation.

Can Siri or Echo aid elderly adults experiencing loneliness because they can no longer drive? This project will test the usability and effectiveness of the use of voice-command devices to combat life loneliness and depression among adults who belong to Hearts and Hands, a not-for-profit volunteer organization in Western New York.

Faculty are Machiko R. Tomita, clinical professor, Department of Rehabilitation Science, SPHHP; Wenyao Xu, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Kathleen Oczek, executive director of Hearts and Hands.