Research Cores

The Center on Aging supports four research cores that allow us to offer a centralized infrastructure and expertise in aging research.

Dr. Laura Haynes in her office.

Recruitment and Community Engagement Core

The UConn Center on Aging Recruitment and Community Engagement Core (COA-RCEC) has implemented the recruitment of older adults for nearly 100 studies through targeted recruitment and retention methods and establish customized procedures for planning and managing recruitment activities for multiple investigations. Since 1996, the COA-RCEC has provided recruitment services for >60 clinical trials (>5,000 subjects enrolled in studies) involving older adults. It maintains a rich database of research volunteers and community contacts, including over 10,000 names of adults who have expressed interest in receiving information about future research studies or were obtained from the state DMV, DPH licensure list, alumni groups, senior centers, community organizations, and community events. COA-RCEC has extensive experience implementing a range of recruitment methods including media planning/placement, developing individualized patient referral methods with medical provider groups, utilizing medical records diagnosis codes, utilizing claim codes with collaborating insurance providers, and participating and partnering in community engagement activities. COA-RCEC also provides guidance and resources to investigators for protocol development, regulatory compliance, and recruitment planning and implementation. All mailings and investigator requests for access to our database are subject to approval from the Center on Aging and IRB.

For more information, please contact Lisa Kenyon-Pesce, M.P.H., or Julie Robison, Ph.D.

Biomarkers and Preclinical Studies Core

This core assists investigators who wish to add biomarker measurements to aging and geriatric research involving human subjects or animal models. Biomarker capacities include multiplex and/or ELISA analysis of soluble factors such as cytokines, chemokines, myokines and hormones, as well as analysis of cell surface markers by flow cytometry and histological analysis of tissues. The core’s second major mission is to also develop and maintain capacities to use animal models in order to study mechanisms and perform preclinical testing of interventions targeting aging- and disease-related functional declines in mobility performance, metabolism, cognition, behavior, host defense and voiding.

Capacities for pre-clinical studies are provided by the Center on Aging Metabolism and Mobility Core. This core consists of (1) a Columbus Instruments Comprehensive Lab Animal Monitoring System (CLAMS), (2) a DigiGait animal gait analysis system, and (3) glucose and insulin tolerance testing. The manuals and protocol for the CLAMS can be found here: Hardware Manual, Software Manual, CLAMS Protocol, and a training video.

Other additional equipment that is available for pre-clinical studies include Rotarod, Balance Beam, Inclined Plane, Grip Strength, and Vertical Loop devices. In addition, a small animal NMR machine is available to measure mouse body composition and bone density. Extensive additional resources to evaluate bone are available through the Bone Biology Program, while the Neuroscience Department assists with a full array of behavioral and cognitive tests in its Scoville Neurobehavioral Suite. Finally, facilities for bladder muscle strip and in vivo urodynamic studies including a platform for integrated measurements of bladder pressure, volume, and flow in mice are also available. All requests require an approval from the Center on Aging and have to be conducted under an existing IRB or UConn Health IACUC protocol.

Interested investigators should contact Laura Haynes, Ph.D. or George Kuchel, M.D.

Clinical Data and Geriatric Outcomes

Our outcomes core assists in the selection, performance, and interpretation of geriatric outcomes and performance measures. It also supports data collection, management, and analysis. Content expertise is available in the selection and interpretation of measures evaluating gait, mobility, affect, cognition, behavior, voiding symptoms, incontinence, body composition, bone density, and self-reported quality of life.

For more information, please contact Alis Ohlheiser, M.S., or Richard Fortinsky, Ph.D. For projects requiring a Ph.D. biostatistician, we are proud to work with Dr. James Grady from UConn’s Biostatistics Center.

Evaluation and Population Assessment

The assessment core conducts surveys and needs assessments related to health, disability, services, and quality of life. We offer expertise in evaluating the effectiveness of public policies and programs involving older adults, families, and providers. Methodologies include cross‐sectional and longitudinal surveys, analysis of administrative, program and linked clinical or financial data, plus focus group and key informant interviews. Services are available to investigators, state or federal agencies, and municipalities. All requests require approval by the Center on Aging and must be conducted under an IRB-approved or IRB-exempt protocol.

Interested investigators may contact Deborah Migneault, MSW, Julie Robison, Ph.D., or Ellis Dillon, Ph.D.