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Center on Aging

Development Projects

Basic Science:

Seminar series on Aging at MUSC:
The members of the executive committee select and approve the speaker list but anyone interested in inviting a speaker can suggest potential speakers.

Endowed Chair in Parkinson’s disease:
One of the areas that needs strengthening at MUSC is basic and translational research in the mechanism and potential treatment paradigms of Parkinson’s disease. The Center on Aging will pursue potential donors for the endowment of a chair in this area.

Endowed Chair in Stroke:
South Carolina ranks number 1 in the incidence of stroke in the United States; yet, there is no active research program on stroke at MUSC. The Center on Aging aims to pursue an endowment for a chair to direct a research program in this area within the next few years.

Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s disease:
The economics and demographics of Alzheimer’s disease warrants a significant focus in this research area at MUSC. We will actively recruit national and international talent in this area, in order to build a Center for excellence at MUSC, centralized around an endowed chair in the area. We will also utilize this talent to pursue an Alzheimer Disease Research Center grant, ADRC, from the National Institutes on Aging.

Endowed Chair in Palliative and End-of-Life Care:
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science has indicated that there is an urgent need to improve palliative and end-of-life care. MUSC is the recipient of several prestigious research grants focusing on palliative and end-of-life care, and MUSC assumes a leadership role in South Carolina in advancing the needs of terminally ill patients and their families.

An endowed Chair in Palliative and End-of-Life Care at MUSC would facilitate the further development of critical research in this vital area. A community focus on end-of-life could also be enhanced by recruitment of a nationally prominent expert, and would promote acquisition of grant research support for interdisciplinary research and clinical activities.

Behavioral Center for Animal Models of aging:
One major resource that is missing at MUSC is a Center for behavioral studies of age-related animal models. This includes cognitive and motor testing, as well as testing of different drug delivery paradigms. These animal models are essential for drug development and other translational research enterprises, and must be present for successful recruitment of top-notch scientists.

This relates to all areas of research in aging, but primarily stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. The lack of such behavioral facilities has already been a barrier in hiring of faculty in the field of aging and age-related disease to MUSC.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for animal models of aging:
This fairly novel field of research provides a necessary translational tool for examination of age-related phenomena as well as drug development. There is already a group in place at MUSC, with members from many departments of COM, to investigate the possibility of obtaining a small animal imaging unit to MUSC. The development of a small animal imaging Center with state-of-the art equipment will allow us to proceed with recruitment of top scientists in the field of neurodegeneration and other age-related diseases.

Aging animal facility (Vet care and pathology):
Aged animals need special care and special conditions, such as micro barrier environment and increased veterinary care. We propose to establish a Center for veterinary care of aged animals, on close conjunction with the transgenic facility and the behavioral testing area.

Clinical research and practice:

  • Create a coordinated Geriatric Care Network (GCN) at MUSC.
    In order to establish an infrastructure for care of elderly patients at MUSC, it is necessary to have an organization that focuses on this task. Once the Boyle-McKnight Chair in Geriatrics has been filled, a clinical coordinator will be hired to build a well-functioning organization that can provide information to elderly patients seeking specialized or general care at MUSC. The coordinator will also participate in fundraising, coordinate clinical research studies, and provide the Center on Aging with information regarding clinical activities. The Geriatric Care Network (GCN) is thus the key to success for the clinical geriatric program.
  • Establish a Center for Excellence on Parkinson’s Disease at MUSC.
    Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most devastating age-related diseases that remain to be resolved in terms of both etiology and treatment. There is no effective long-term cure for the disease, despite intensified research in both basic science and clinical research. There is a need for a Center of excellence on Parkinson’s disease here at MUSC, because there is no such Center in our region. With the arrival of Dr. Ken Bergmann and Dr. Steve Takacz, we have recently gained significant prestige and knowledge in this field. We need to continue to build this program to become a regionally and nationally renowned clinical care Center for patients with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Establish a clinical research group in Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care.
    Palliative care is an area that has been underestimated for many years and that has recently received national attention through the efforts of American Federation of Aging Research (AFAR) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), among others. Due to the demographics of South Carolina, there is a need to establish a clinical care and research group in Palliative Care and End-of-Life.
  • Develop a Brain Bank/Neuropathology Core at MUSC.
    Many of the diseases of old age have a neurological component such as Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multi-infarct Dementia, and Atherosclerosis. There is currently no Brain Bank or Neuropathology Core at MUSC, and this impedes the development of Centers of Excellence in this field. A neuropathology core would allow us to collect valuable information postmortem, collaborate with other aging Centers in the U.S. and abroad, as well as compete successfully for Center grants. The neuropathology core would also have a large educational impact on our Pre- and Postdoctoral Training Program on Aging, as it would allow students to study different diseases as well as the process of normal aging. This is currently not available to them.

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Through the collaboration with SC-GEC, the Center on Aging is able to offer a variety of different programs that will strengthen the knowledge of Healthy Aging and age-related diseases for our SC citizens. The community outreach programs also serve as identifiers of specific disease profiles (such as the Parkinson’s Disease Registry) and are used for networking with other organizations and institutions. The areas below are important programs that would fortify and extend our current community programs in South Carolina, but cannot be funded by our current assets:

  • Center on Aging web page & SC-GEC web page.
  • Develop a SC Parkinson’s Disease Registry.
  • Seminar series and workshop for the community and for health professionals in SC.
  • Ministers’ Curriculum on End-of-Life Issues.
  • Rural Primary Care Residents/Preceptors Distance Education.

    SCPHCA/Community Health Centers Collaborative Clinician Retreat.

Professional Conferences: An important function of Center on Aging is to provide leadership and support to statewide research and educational conferences on gerontology/geriatrics for all health professionals. We currently support several different conferences, but need more funds in order to expand this important function. Below are a few such events that we would like to initiate, and that would strengthen research on aging in our state.

Charleston Primetime Annual Conference: This community-sponsored event is in need of financial support in order to continue. This event has attracted a large audience of retired and semi-retired residents of the greater Charleston area, and has featured an extensive list of topics related to healthy aging..

SC Rural Community Summit on Aging: an interactive summit aimed at developing consensus on forming interdisciplinary aging networks to address needs of the elderly.

SC Summer School of Gerontology:The South Carolina School of Gerontology is a successful ongoing program, and an initiative involving most teaching institutions in our state. The program provides training and ongoing education to health. We currently provide scholarships and participate as speakers to the Summer School, but would like to expand our duties by providing invited lecturers and more scholarships.

Feasibility Study for Volunteers in Medicine Replication Program:
The Volunteers in Medicine Institute is a non-profit organization based in Hilton Head, SC, but has been replicated in numerous sites across the country. The program consists of retired health care professionals assisting in the delivery of health care to medically under-served and disadvantaged patients. The program has received national recognition, and is the recipient of many awards. A feasibility study could be conducted to examine the potential to replicate the program using retired MUSC health care professionals.

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Education of Health Professionals:

Interdisciplinary Team Teaching, ITT: $60,000/year for 3 years
The ITT program would entail a brand new concept in education; students would learn to interact with each other already during their early phase of education in all health professions. We propose to form teams of students consisting of a mixture of different disciplines, so that medical students, pharmacy students, nursing students etc would work together and visit older adult patients. They would receive training in particular areas by trained professionals, such as dieticians, dentists, pharmacists, and geriatricians, and then visit the patients to record their histories, interview them regarding medications, and perform physical exams. The data would then be entered by palm pilots into a Center on Aging-based database where geriatric cases could be developed and clinical research performed.

The patient would benefit from the simultaneous attention of several different health professionals, and it would also potentially lead to an attitude change towards the different health professions as well as towards elderly patients for the students. We plan to seek funding for this project both from NIH and private foundations. Pilot data need to be gathered to prove that MUSC is able to undertake such a bridging task in education.

Elder Abuse Seminar for faculty: $ 5,000.
The Center on Aging and the SC-GEC will collaborate with Adult Protective Services Agency to develop educational materials and also to organize a workshop on Elder Abuse that will occur every three years at MUSC, available for all faculty and students at MUSC as well as for Health Professionals throughout the state.

Ethnogeriatric/Cultural Competency workshop for faculty and students: $10,000.
In collaboration with SC-GEC, the Center on Aging will arrange workshops on ethnogeriatric/cultural issues. SC-GEC will develop educational materials and organize the workshops, but needs Center on Aging to provide funding and competent presenters for the event. It will be a required course for the residents in Geriatrics.

Resource Lending Library: $5,000/year
One of the major functions of Center on Aging is to be a resource on Gerontology/Geriatrics for Faculty, students, and health professionals. Center on Aging and the SC-GEC therefore intends to develop/maintain a lending library of educational resources for faculty and students. However, in order to sustain a first-class library, additional funds are needed.

Development of a fellowship program in clinical Geriatrics. $250,000.
There is currently no fellowship program in Geriatrics at MUSC. Developing such a program would give Geriatrics presence on campus, and provide a valuable source of young faculty interested in this field. However, additional funds are needed in terms of recruitment of teaching faculty and space for this endeavor.

Development of an interdisciplinary course at MUSC. $30,000 /year for 5 years
The President of MUSC, Dr. Raymond Greenberg, has declared Healthy Aging as one of four focus areas for MUSC during the next decade. As an important part of the Strategic Planning, it has been suggested by the Education Focus group that an interdisciplinary course on Gerontology/Geriatrics is needed for all students at MUSC. We estimate that it will take 5 years to develop this course and most funds are needed to support faculty time and effort.

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Endowed Chair in Interventions and Outcomes $1,000,000.
An endowed chair in interventions and outcomes would encourage research to serve the presently aging population. Older people are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease depression, obesity and diabetes to name a few. Intervention and outcome research is necessary to find solutions to present problems and to serve the aging population of South Carolina. An endowed chair in this area will encourage and serve as a focus for interdisciplinary research from all Colleges within the University.

Annual interventions workshop $50,000/year.
An annual workshop sponsored by the aging center would be valuable to both clinician and researcher and would bring national attention to the Center on Aging at MUSC. Expert researchers would report on their studies to the MUSC community and in this way significant outcomes would be translated into practice. National experts would be invited to keynote and their presence on campus would provide added incentives to conduct this type of research.


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