UF Opens New Aging Studies Center

May 14, 2018

The center will conduct studies on the impact of aging, particularly on poor and minority seniors who are often underrepresented in clinical research, said Tina Bottini, an assistant dean at the UF College of Medicine — Jacksonville.

A symbolic ribbon cutting was held Friday for the new University of Florida College of Medicine — Jacksonville’s Aging Studies Center, also known as JAX-ASCENT, according to our Florida Times-Union news partner.

The opening of the center was made possible because of a five-year $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, said Leon Haley, dean of the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville and CEO of UF Health Jacksonville.

“UF Health Jacksonville and the College of Medicine are dedicated to bringing new, groundbreaking research to this community and this center is a perfect example,” Haley said. ”... It will truly be one of a kind in our region and will involve not only research teams but also patients and volunteers from throughout our city.”

The center is located in 5,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the Professional Office Building on Boulevard Street, which once housed Jacksonville’s main Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic. Renovations on the space began in December.

Since the entire second floor of the Professional Office Building is vacant, the center will have plenty of room to expand, Haley said.

The center will conduct studies on the impact of aging, particularly on poor and minority seniors who are often underrepresented in clinical research, said Tina Bottini, assistant dean for research administration and compliance at the UF College of Medicine — Jacksonville.

The first study JAX-ASCENT will undertake will look at age-related muscle mass loss.

In addition to looking at issues involving senior health, the center will be training members of the faculty of the UF College of Medicine — Jacksonville how to do research, said Thomas Pearson, UF executive vice president for research and education at UF Health.

“We’ll be going 90 miles an hour right from the start,” he said.

Providing a lot of that training in how to do research will be Marco Pahor, who started the University of Florida Institute on Aging in 2005, and other staffers from the Institute on Aging and the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, located I Gainesville.

“JAX-ASCENT will create an integrative physical and intellectual environment in which trainees at all levels, and scientists from diverse disciplines, can interact and conduct clinical and behavioral translational research on aging and independence of older adults,” Pahor said.

The JAX-ASCENT center includes interview and examination rooms, a DEXA scanner that evaluates body composition and bone density, a hand grip test, a Biodex Isokinetic testing machine that assesses the strength of various body parts and a long hallway that can be used to study how aging affects walking.

You can read a longer version of this story and see an additional photo on jacksonville.com.