Biennial Report of the Director

Centers of Excellence
Older Americans Independence Centers of Excellence

Establishment of the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers

In 1955, the Surgeon General of the United States established five Geriatric Research and Training Centers to advance research on the health care problems of the elderly and train future academic leaders in the field of geriatrics. In 1989, Congress passed legislation that redesignated these Geriatric Research and Training Centers as the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (OAICs) to honor former Florida Senator and Representative Claude Denson Pepper for his efforts to promote the health and well-being of older Americans. Section 445A of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 285e-3) authorizes the OAICs to increase scientific knowledge leading to better ways to maintain or restore independence in older adults (see Table 4-2).

How OAICs Function within the NIH Framework

NIH funding for the OAICs comes from NIA through a center grant mechanism (P30). The ultimate goal of the OAIC program is to translate research on aging to applications and interventions that increase or maintain independence for older persons. NIH currently targets a total of 12 OAICs for funding (see Table 4-2).

As Centers of Excellence in geriatrics research and training, the OAICs provide intellectual leadership in geriatrics research, encouraging and facilitating multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations in basic, translational, and clinical research relevant to the health and independence of older persons. In addition, each OAIC includes a Research Career Development Core to provide research training and career development opportunities in geriatrics and related fields.

Description of Disease or Condition

Age is a primary risk factor for many disabling diseases and conditions. However human aging is a highly variable process; there is no single disease or condition that is synonymous with aging. Understanding the process of aging is necessary to promote the health and well-bing of older adults. Aging research focuses on a range of conditions, including geriatric syndromes (e.g., involuntary weight loss, dizziness, and urinary incontinence) and diseases and disorders that are more common among older adults such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, stroke, and loss of sensory function.

Burden of Illness

Currently, over 40 million Americans are older than 65 years. Of these, nearly 6 million are older than 85, and over 70,000 have reached their 100th birthday. By 2030, the number of individuals age 65 or older is likely to reach 70.3 million, and this group will comprise 20 percent of the entire U.S. population. The number of the “oldest old”, people age 85 or older, is expected to grow to at least 20.9 million by 2050.

Older Americans use more health care than any other age group, and researchers predict that increased longevity is likely to require more financing from federal health care systems, including Medicare and Medicaid. As life expectancy increases, the health care system will need to find new ways to address disease and disability during later life.

Scope of NIH Activities: Research and Programmatic

OAICs are designed to develop or strengthen each awardee institution’s programs in a key area of aging research, contribute to greater independence for older persons, and offer opportunities for training and career development in aging research for young scientists. The program’s ultimate goal is to enhance translation of basic and developmental research on aging to applications and interventions that increase or maintain independence for older persons.

NIH expects each OAIC, in its selected area of focus, to:

NIH Funding for FY 2010 and FY 2011

NIH funding for the OAICs was $13.97 million in FY 2010 and $13.34 million in FY 2011 for non-ARRA (regular appropriations), and $0.21 million for ARRA appropriations.

FY 2010 and FY 2011 Progress Report

Programmatic and Research Activities and Outcomes

Recommendations for Improving the Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Outcomes of the OAICs

The OAIC Coordinating Center at Wake Forest University facilitates information exchange and research collaborations among OAICs. The Coordinating Center helps develop and implement projects in shared areas of interest. Its major activities include developing and maintaining Web-based resources to facilitate collaboration among OAIC sites and interface with the public; coordinating and enhancing OAIC training programs; and organizing seminars and other activities for senior investigators and trainees at the OAIC Annual Scientific Meeting.

Evaluation Plans

NIH program staff review the progress of each OAIC every year as part of the non-competing renewal process. In addition, each OAIC is required on a yearly basis to convene an external advisory board of expert scientists outside the OAIC institution(s) to evaluate the Center’s progress and suggest any necessary changes in its scientific or administrative directions to achieve its stated goals.

Future Directions

NIH plans to continue to fund new and existing Claude D. Pepper OAICs and to continue to develop and strengthen the progress in key areas of aging research in order to discover new and effective ways to promote healthy and productive aging.

Table 4-2. Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (OAICs)
Institution and Location Year Established
Duke University, Durham, NC 1955
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1989
University of California, Los Angeles, CA 1991
Wake Forest University, Winston‐Salem, NC 1991
Yale University, New Haven, CT 1992
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 1994
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 1999
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 2003
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 2004
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 2007
Boston University, Boston, MA 2008
Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY 2010
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 2011