VOL.2 *SUMMER 2007
UF IOA investigators Director's welcome
awarded a Penner Center
T he University of .M
onA _iih_ orIOA,
has been awarded a Claude
D. Pepper Older Americans
Independence Center five-
year grant. As the American
population grows older,
the work conducted at the
Pepper Centers to address :
the loss of independence in
elders becomes increasingly
In 2006, the National
Institute on Aging
supported 10 Pepper
Centers across the United
States, each with a specific
area of emphasis beyond
the basic role in research
Created in honor
of the former Florida
The IOA's Dr. Rebecca Beyth, associate professor in UF's
Senator and Congressman department of aging and geriatrics and a staff physician
Pepper, who dedicated with the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, discusses
his legislative career to a mobility test with a patient.
improving the lives of
older Americans, the nation's Pepper Centers target research on one common
fear people have about growing older the decline of physical function and
loss of independence.
The research programs at the IOAs Pepper Center are organized around
several core areas that effectively bring together its interdisciplinary team of
researchers, geriatricians and educators to address the IOAs central mission of
"sarcopenia, prevention and rehabilitation of disability."
Please turn to page 2 to learn more about the 10A cores and mission. t
We are proud to announce the
funding of the University of Florida
Claude Pepper Older American's
Independence Center. The mission of the UF
Pepper Center is threefold: To assess the risk factors
and better understand the biological and behavioral
mechanisms of physical disability in older adults;
to develop and test effective prevention and
rehabilitation therapies and to educate and train
new investigators and leaders in research on aging
Our research theme -sarcopenia, prevention
and rehabilitation of disability -is examined from
interdisciplinary perspectives translating across
the entire spectrum of biomedical investigation,
including molecular biology, animal studies,
clinical research, behavioral and social sciences and
To accomplish our mission, we have assembled
an outstanding team of investigators from diverse
behavioral, clinical and basic science disciplines who
will conduct research on maintaining independence
by prevention and rehabilitation of disability. In
addition, we have successfully developed special
areas of expertise and competencies, which are
represented in the integrated cores that support our
research and training program.
The structure will allow us to capitalize
on strong institutional support, including
University of Florida's strategic priorities, rich
interdisciplinary academic environment, state-
of-the-art infrastructure, strong leadership and its
investigators' track record of success, to accomplish
our mission of prevention and rehabilitation of
disability in elders. t
S-f he research programs at UF's IOA Pepper
SCenter are organized around several
.. .core areas that foster multidisciplinary
B I collaborations and integrate and bridge the many
available resources at UF and its affiliates.
I The leadership and administration core,
led by Marco Pahor, M.D., is responsible for strategic
planning, organization, administrative operations and
Marco Pahor, M.D.
evaluation of the IOA.
Upcoming geriatricians and gerontology researchers are mentored and
guided by the efforts of the research career development core, led by
Rebecca Beyth, M.D., and Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D., which promotes
and augments the development of future research leaders.
Ron Shorr, M.D., and Christy Carter, Ph.D., lead the pilot and
exploratory studies core, which administers pilot studies that are intended
to result in larger independently funded studies, and supports research to
acquire information to select or design future crucial studies in the IOA areas
The clinical research core leader Marco Pahor, M.D. and co-leader
Michael Perri, Ph.D., coordinate the center's focus of managing clinical
research facilities for projects with a particular emphasis on epidemiologic
studies and randomized controlled trials.
The preclinical and translational research core, led by Philip
Scarpace, Ph.D., and Christy Carter, Ph.D., focuses on work on the biology
of aging and developing rodent models for assessing the age-related physical
function decline in humans.
Data entry, database maintenance, analyses and quality control procedures
are handled by the biostatistics, data management and methodology
core, which is led by Michael Daniels, Sc.D., and Elizabeth Shenkman, Ph.D.
The recruitment, adherence and retention core, led by Michael
Marsiske, Ph.D., oversees the effective and efficient screening, enrollment and
retention of older participants into Pepper-affiliated and supported studies.
The main role of the genomics, metabolism and biomarkers core,
led by Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D., and Henry Baker, Ph.D., is to identify
and obtain genetic, gene expression, metabolic and biological measures to be
assessed in the basic and clinical research studies. ft
With exercise, elders can improve
weakened physical abilities
Wth a prescription of regular structured
exercise, sedentary elderly are able to
safely improve their physical function
and may reduce the likelihood they will experience
difficulty walking a quarter mile, according to
findings from a multicenter pilot study led by the
University of Florida Institute on Aging.
UF researchers announced the results of their
Lifestyle Interventions and Independence For Elders
pilot, or LIFE, at the Gerontological Society of
America's annual meeting in Dallas. The research
was also published in the November issue of the
Journal of Gerontology.
The findings confirm the feasibility of a full-scale
clinical trial using physical activity in older people,
said Marco Pahor, director of the UF Institute on
Aging and the study's principal investigator.
"This pilot demonstrates that the physical activity
was extremely safe for the study participants
elderly people at a high risk of becoming disabled,"
The LIFE study was conducted at four centers
-the Cooper Institute, Stanford University, the
University of Pittsburgh and Wake Forest University
-and was funded by the National Institute on
Aging. The coordinating center was based at UF
The pilot study was the first to gather evidence
that physical activity can improve the score on a
standardized test of lower extremity physical mobility
called the Short Physical Performance Battery, or
SPPB, the researchers said.
"We have shown a 29 percent reduction of
incapacity to walk. That is highly promising for the
success of the full-scale study," Pahor said. T
Christy Carter, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of aging and geriatric research, has been appointed
associate director for Research, in the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the Malcom Randall
VA Medical Center.
Arnold Seo, Ph.D., a graduate student, was awarded an American Heart Association Fellowship to research the basic
biology of mitochondrial biogenesis and work to develop heart disease treatments.
Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of aging and geriatrics, was awarded a
continuation grant from the NIA to study mitochondrial function, energy production and oxidative stress with age in cardiac
and skeletal muscle.
Opportunities to increase strength and independence
Major goal of the Institute on Aging and the Older American's
Independence Center is to help develop treatments in the elderly
population for combating sarcopenia.
The UF IOA Pepper Center supports research on extending independence
by maintaining physical and muscular strength. Two ongoing studies are taking
different approaches to tackle the issue.
Weight loss and muscle strength
Obesity has been linked with an elevated level of cellular inflammation that
can contribute to sarcopenia, muscle loss, as well as an overall decline in physical
Elderly people who experience a combination of weight gain and muscle loss
are often stuck in a vicious cycle that can lead to inactivity, increasing immobility,
disease and early death.
Michael Perri, Ph.D., associate director of the UF Institute on Aging
and associate dean for research in the College of Public Health and Health
Professions, has been awarded an opportunity grant by the University of Florida
to conduct a pilot study that will gather data at
baseline and after six months of lifestyle treatment
to determine whether weight loss plus exercise
produces beneficial changes in biochemical
indicators of inflammation and muscle loss as well
as improvements in body composition and overall
Beverly Roberts, Ph.D., a professor and
researcher with the Institute on Aging and the
UF College of N,,j ;1i became interested in the
effects of tai chi on elders' balance and strength
as she researched exercise interventions for people
weakened with sarcopenia. Through the support
of the Pepper Center and a UF opportunity grant,
Roberts is testing tai chi as a possible exercise
intervention for inactive elderly people.
Of the 45 study participants, 20 performed
S low-impact tai chi, the rest acted as a control group.
Over the course of the study, Roberts will assess
participants' ability to perform daily activities and
their physical and psychological health.
Roberts records baseline measurements and
uses a Biodex machine to measure the strength of
muscle groups aroundjoints. In addition, Roberts
is looking at dual balance motor and thinking
tasks. She is also assessing confidence in doing
daily activities and frequency and difficulty in
doing certain daily tasks. T
The strengths of testosterone
Wth others in his laboratory, Steve Borst, Ph.D., an associate professor
of applied physiology & kinesiology at the University of Florida
and the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the
Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, focuses on the
study of sarcopenia and osteopenia, or the losses of
muscle and bone that occur as a result of the aging
Although treating older hypogonadal men with
replacement doses of testosterone has benefits, this
treatment does not produce substantial increases in
strength and bone mineral density. As a result of
this unmet need, Borst is testing several alternative
His lab's strategy is to combine a high dose of Steve Borst, Ph.D.
testosterone with a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Borst has shown that the
latter blocks the prostate-enlarging effects of testosterone, without blocking
the positive anabolic effects.
For his work Borst is the recipient of a VA Merit Award. His goals
are to test the mechanisms of this response in a rat model and to test the
effectiveness of this strategy in a human study.
In addition, Borst has also found that high-dose testosterone has a
powerful cardioprotective effect in rats, as revealed in ischemia/reperfusion
studies performed in the working heart preparation. His team is investigating
the role of testosterone metabolism within the bone in mediating its effects
on bone mineral density and bone remodeling.
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., M.Sc
Christy S. Carter, Ph.D.
Lauren E. Crump, MPH
Michael J. Daniels, Sc.D.
Paul Hoffman, M.D.
Ann L. Horgas, R.N., Ph.D.
Steven A. Kautz, Ph.D.
Marco Pahor, IOA director
Christy Carter, UF IOA, VA GRECC
Louise Perras, UF IOA
Peggy Smith, UF IOA
Denise Trunk, UF IOA
Constance Uphold, UF IOA, VA GRECC
Mickey Cuthbertson, Design
U e y FI da
Insttut on Ag
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
UF UNIVERSITY of
Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D.
Michael Marsiske, Ph.D.
John Meuleman, M.D.
Troy Munn, MPA
Michael G. Perri, Ph.D.
Scott K. Powers, Ph.D.
Beverly Roberts, Ph.D.
Philip J. Scarpace, Ph.D.
Ronald I. Shorr, M.D., M.S.
Elizabeth A. Shenkman, Ph.D.
Constance Uphold, Ph.D.
Legacy of Giving
With the new Pepper Center awarded by the National
Institute o!' ._ i the University of Florida becomes a nationally
recognized leader in research, education and patient care relating
to increasing the likelihood for independence in daily living for us
as we grow older.
The IOA needs partners who are committed to joining the
effort to ensure that good health and independence are more
likely to happen for us all as we age. Your support of aging
research and education at UF will educate future health-care
providers in how to care for older persons, support our world-
class faculty in cutting-edge research, and create a legacy for UF
to remain a leader in providing a healthier tomorrow for us all.
Please contact Troy Munn, director of development, at (352)
265-7227 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to make a
gift or would like information regarding deferred gifts providing
tax incentives and income for you.