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NIVR*I*o INSTITUTE ON AGING
CTHE t1 IU I
-------------------_ ~ VOL.1 *ISSUE 1 *SUMMER'06
Christiaan Leeuwenburgh in his lab with Stephanie Wohlgemuth.
Cutting calories slightly can reduce aging damage
BY DENISE TRUNK
A lifelong habit of trimming just a few calories from the daily diet can do
more than slim the waistline -a new study shows it may help lessen the
effects of aging.
Scientists from UF's Institute on Aging have found that eating a
little less food and exercising a little more over a lifespan can reduce or even reverse
aging-related cell and organ damage in rats. The discovery, described in the journal
Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, builds on recent research in animals and humans that
has shown a more drastic 20 percent to 40 percent cut in calories slows aging damage.
The UF findings indicate even small reductions in calories could have big effects
on health and shed light on the molecular process responsible for the phenomenon,
which until now has been poorly understood.
"This finding suggests that even slight moderation in intake of calories and a
moderate exercise program is beneficial to a key organ such as the liver, which shows
significant signs of dysfunction in the aging process," said Christiaan Leeuwenburgh,
Ph.D., an associate professor of aging and geriatric research at the UF College of
Medicine and the paper's senior author.
UF scientists found that feeding rats just 8 percent fewer calories a day and
moderately increasing the animals' activity extended their average lifespan and
significantly overturned the negative effects of cellular aging on liver function and
An 8 percent reduction is the equivalent of a few hundred calories in an average
human diet and moderate exercise is equivalent to taking a short walk. U
1 9 1
I speak for the University of Florida Insti-
tute on Aging's physicians, researchers
and health-care service providers when I
welcome you to the first edition of our
quarterly newsletter, Continuum. Florida's Insti-
tute on Aging is staffed by professionals dedicat-
ed to high-quality interdisciplinary and transla-
tional research who are focused on improving
the health and independence of older adults.
Our continuing goal, to be at the forefront
of research, health care, education and ca-
reer development in the area of aging, is set
in order to make significant contributions to
the preservation of independence and to the
prevention and rehabilitation of disabilities af-
fecting senior citizens.
UF's Institute on Aging has its academic
home in the College of Medicine's depart-
ment of aging and geriatric research, which
supplies the infrastructure for faculty members
from diverse disciplines who wish to pursue a
career primarily focused on aging research and
education. We have established a Career De-
velopment Division to train and guide future
geriatricians and we also work closely with phy-
sicians and researchers at the Malcom Randall
Veterans Administration Medical Center.
I hope that this newsletter will provide you
with useful information as to how we are ful-
filling our mission to be a one-stop resource for
aging research, education and patient care. U
Elders' ability to walk
predicts future health outcomes
As people age into their 70s, their ability to walk a
quarter mile becomes an important predictor of
overall health and even how long they might live,
according to study findings published in the Journal of the
American MAedical Association.
Of nearly 3,000 healthy seniors studied, those who
were able to complete a quarter-mile extended walking
test were three times as likely to live longer and were less
likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and physical in-
firmity as they aged, said Marco Pahor, M.D., director of
UF's Institute on Aging and the multi-institutional study's
co-principal investigator at its Memphis site.
Decreasing mobility, along with lack of muscle strength
and a decline in aerobic ability, are common aspects of
aging that can diminish quality of life, Pahor said. Under-
standing the mechanisms of how people lose mobility can
keep people functioning independently longer, he added.
"This shows the predictive value of a simple perfor-
mance task," Pahor said. "This will help us develop a
testable standard for fitness, which is the first step toward
creating a strategy for maintaining independence in older
New clerkship makes the
most of geriatric education
Dr. John Meuleman, left, Dr. Rebecca Beyth, Dr. Miho Bautista, Peggy
Smith and Michelle Griffin developed the department of aging and geriatric
medicine's new mandatory two-week rotation in geriatrics. The first group of
fourth-year students will attend the course in July at four clinical sites, two
in Jacksonville and two in Gainesville.
Beginning in July, all fourth-year medical students will add a new
component to their medical education -a two-week clerkship
in geriatric medicine.
Coordinated by the Geriatric Clerkship Development Team and led
by directorJohn Meuleman, M.D., and Miho Bautista, M.D, in the UF
Institute on A.i_._ the course will expose students to numerous situa-
tions in treating and communicating with geriatric patients.
Rebecca Beyth, M.D., an associate professor in the College of
Medicine's department of geriatrics and aging research, and associate
director of the Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center, is chief of a
new division that will oversee the clerkship, the career development and
"The students are going to see patients in different clinical settings
-whether it is the VA or university private practice, nursing home
or Shands Hospital -to make sure they are getting exposure to ev-
erything they would see, depending on what they do in their future
careers," Beyth said. \ ., I.. they won't go into geriatrics, but even if
they go into internal medicine they are going to have to deal with older
patients, and even if they go on to be pediatricians they are going to
have to deal with the parents or grandparents of the patients they treat.
So they need to have understanding." U
Obesity cause uncovered
molecule by molecule
O obesity, and its asso-
ciation with type 2
diabetes and hyper-
tension, has been pinpointed
by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention as an
important public health con-
cern that affects more than 30
percent of American adults.
As people age, obesity can also
lems and decrease mobility.
PhilipJ. Scarpace, Ph.D., a
professor of pharmacology and s e
an affiliate professor in the In-
stitute on Aging's department of aging and geriatric research, uses gene
therapy as a way to understand the molecular mechanisms in regions of
the brain that cause both diet-induced and age-related obesity.
Scarpace and his team have two ongoing studies funded by the
National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Aging that are
focused on the action of leptin, the role of leptin resistance in obesity
and the effect of the neuropeptide POMC on obesity.
A third goal of Scarpace's research is to reverse or prevent the de-
velopment of obesity using gene delivery techniques aimed at both
circumventing leptin resistance and independently activating energy
"Our goal is a scientific goal," Scarpace said. "But such discoveries
may lead us or others to develop new treatments for obesity and the
diabetes associated with obesity." U
Lauren Crump, M.P.H., has been promoted to a faculty posi-
tion, assistant in the department of aging and geriatric research
in the Institute on Aging.
Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D., an associate professor of
aging and geriatric research, is an invited speaker at two profes-
sional conferences in July, one in Lausanne, Switzerland and the
other in Moscow, Russia.
Beverly Roberts, Ph.D., a professor in the College of N. ;1
was awarded an opportunity grant to assess the "Effects of Tai Chi
on physical performance, functional limitation and disability."
Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., an associate dean in the College of
Public Health and Health Professions, received an opportunity
grant to study "Biological effects of weight loss plus exercise in
obese older African-American women."
Pam Duncan leads multicenter effort
to study stroke rehabilitation
UF scientists have been awarded a five-year, multi-
center federal grant to lead a national group of re-
searchers who will study rehabilitation techniques
designed to improve walking in the first year after stroke.
"These are critical questions that are very important
as we address the needs of aging patients," said Pam Dun-
can, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator and associate
director of the UF Institute on Aging.
The study, known as the Locomotor Experience Ap-
plied Post-Stroke trial, or LEAPS, is funded by the Na-
tional Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes and
the National Center for Medical Rehabilitative Research.
Difficulty walking is the most common disability asso-
ciated with stroke, said Duncan, who is also a professor of
aging and geriatric research in the UF College of Medi-
cine and a research career scientist for the Department of
Veteran Affairs. The focus of the trial is a clinic-based pro-
gram in which patients practice walking on a treadmill.
The multisite, randomized trial will assess whether there
is a difference in the proportion of subjects who successfully
recover walking ability using this therapy versus a group giv-
en a therapist-supervised, home-based exercise program.
Researchers will separate 400 patients ages 18 and old-
er into study groups based on the severity of their strokes
and their level of
ment. They also
will gauge whether
initiating the ther-
apy two months
after stroke versus
six months after
stroke makes a dif-
ference in its ef-
fectiveness and will =
seek to identify the
optimal duration E
of therapy. Patients Pmuc
will be reassessed
one year after treatment.
"Timing the intervention is important," Duncan said.
"For example, after a stroke, a patient will experience some
spontaneous recovery. We need to learn when we should
provide therapy, during this period of recovery or later,
when recovery has stabilized?"
The study will evaluate the success of the therapeutic
methods tested by measuring how much walking ability
study subjects regain, and whether that improvement is
great enough to help them act independently. U
Institute on Aging
Marco Pahor, M.D.
Elena Andresen, Ph.D.
Henry V. Baker, Ph.D.
Kenneth I. Berns, M.D., Ph.D.
Rebecca J. Beyth, M.D., MS.c
Randy Braith, Ph.D.
Christy S. Carter, Ph.D.
Lauren E. Crump, MPH
Michael J. Daniels, Sc.D.
Pamela W. Duncan, Ph.D.
Paul M. Hoffman, M.D.
Marco Pahor, IOA director
Mickey Cuthbertson, Design
Ann L. Horgas, RN, Ph.D.
Steven A. Kautz, Ph.D.
Patricia B. Kricos, Ph.D.
Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D.
Michael Marsiske, Ph.D.
Michael G. Perri, Ph.D.
Scott K. Powers, Ph.D.,
Phillip J. Scarpace, Ph.D.
Elizabeth A. Shenkman, Ph.D.
Krista H. Vandenborne, Ph.D.
For information on making a gift to
the University of Florida Institute on
A.i__ please call (352) 265-7227.
The state of Florida has the largest proportion of persons age 60
years or older in the nation, and this age group represents the fast-
est growing segment of the population. The UF Institute on Aging
serves as the major catalyst for developing interdisciplinary research,
education and health care to improve the health, independence and
quality of life of older adults. The institute faces special needs to
develop research, clinical and educational programs that address the
health and quality of life of older persons.
The Institute on Aging and the Department of Aging and
Geriatric Research Administrative Offices
1329 SW 16th Street, 5th Floor/ Gainesville, FL 32608
ph: (352) 265-7227
The University of Florida Institute on Aging
PO Box 100107
Gainesville, FL 32610
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