Research on aging expands at U-M with $15M in new grants

Author | Kara Gavin

New grants totaling more than $15 million will amplify the University of Michigan’s ability to conduct research on aging and to help identify and address issues facing older adults today and into the future.

U-M is now home to six aging research centers funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. Two of its existing centers have received renewed funding and a newly funded center has joined the campus.

Earlier this year, the aging centers launched the UMAging Initiative to coordinate activities and encourage collaborations. The UMAging Initiative is jointly organized by faculty members from the Institute for Social Research and the Institute of Gerontology, which is the research arm of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care Medicine in the Medical School.

The new funding supports:

  • The Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging, now entering its 26th year, which was renewed for an additional five years. MiCDA is an interdisciplinary community of scholars from across U-M that advances social and behavioral research on the aging of the population.
  • The University of Michigan Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, continuously funded since 1989, which was renewed for five more years of funding. The Pepper Center advances research on the clinical health of older adults and trains future academic leaders in aging research.
  • The newly formed Center to Accelerate Population Research in Alzheimer’s, which received a five-year award to advance health services and public policy research to improve care for older adults living with dementia.

Two additional NIA-funded U-M aging centers are at the forefront of research on Alzheimer’s disease—the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease. Both involve partnerships with other Michigan-based academic institutions.

A sixth center—the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research—is one of 18 national Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research. A collaboration among U-M, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, it seeks to enhance the diversity of the aging research workforce and to develop infrastructure to promote advances in research on the health and well-being of minority elders.

U-M also was awarded a new grant to host the coordinating center for more than a dozen demography of aging centers nationwide funded by NIA.

“The UMAging centers share a commitment to advancing research on the most pressing health-related issues for older adults and together strengthen our ability to more fully understand the implications of our aging society,” said Vicki Freedman, director of the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging and a research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

All of the centers offer faculty development opportunities such as seed funding for pilot projects and mentorship or training programs. Some centers also support scientific networks to address emerging multidisciplinary topics, focus on recruitment of research participants, or offer data-related services.

“We have a tremendous opportunity through our collaborative research to engage the next generation of scientists and shape the future of healthy aging across all our communities,” said Julie Bynum, who leads the Center to Accelerate Population Research in Alzheimer’s and is the associate director for health policy and research at the U-M Geriatrics Center and a professor of geriatrics.

Raymund Yung, chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Michigan Medicine and leader of the Pepper Center, says aging research is critical to improving the well-being of the aging population.

“The current COVID-19 crisis further highlights the vulnerability of the older population and the need for high-quality research focusing on older adults,” he said. “The breadth of aging research at the University of Michigan will position us well for the challenges ahead.”

Even as it welcomes the awarding of the new grants, U-M’s community of researchers on aging is mourning the loss of one of its long-standing leaders: James Jackson, who led the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research for 22 years and the Institute for Social Research for 10 years. An emerging scholars fund has been established in his name.

Other U-M aging-related efforts

Beyond the NIA-funded centers, U-M faculty members are involved in a variety of efforts to study and address issues affecting older adults, to train the next generation of scholars through training grants, and to offer resources to study aging as well as access to advanced treatment and clinical research.

ISR faculty provide leadership to some of the most widely used data resources on aging funded by NIA, including the Health and Retirement Study, Panel Study of Income Dynamics and National Health and Aging Trends Study. ISR also hosts the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging, which disseminates gerontological data resources for use by researchers around the world, including data from major aging studies.

U-M’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation has a core focus on aging-related issues and is the home of the National Poll on Healthy Aging. U-M faculty and trainees also participate in aging-related research through the VA Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Thousands of older adults from throughout Michigan receive care at Michigan Medicine’s Geriatrics Center and take part in clinical research studies led by its faculty as well as a range of community programs.

Aging Center Grants from NIA to the University of Michigan include: P30AG012846 (MiCDA); P30AG024824 (Pepper Center); P30AG015281 (MCUAAAR); P30AG053760 (ADRC); P30AG059300 (MCCFAD); and P30 AG066582 (CAPRA).

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


Featured News & Stories Illustration of a microscope
Health Lab
Helpful enzymes vanish in many patients with antiphospholipid syndrome
Researchers recently revealed a new mechanism behind antiphospholipid syndrome that the investigators hope will eventually allow treatments to be targeted closer to the source of the problem.
marijuana leaf drawing blue lab note yellow badge upper left corner
Health Lab
Data shows medical marijuana use decreased in states where recreational use became legal 
Data on medical cannabis use found that enrollment in medical cannabis programs increased overall between 2016 and 2022, but enrollment in states where nonmedical use of cannabis became legal saw a decrease in enrollment
Illustration of hand holding list, with pill bottle in opposite and and small pic of doctor talking to patient
Health Lab
New urine-based test detects high grade prostate cancer, helping men avoid unnecessary biopsies
A new urine-based test addresses a major problem in prostate cancer: how to separate the slow growing form of the disease unlikely to cause harm from more aggressive cancer that needs immediate treatment.
News Release
Michigan Medicine part of research group awarded $15 million to study inflammation's impact on heart, brain health
Research teams from Michigan Medicine, Northwestern University and University of Pittsburgh will lead a $15 million project dedicated to studying inflammation’s role in cardiac and brain diseases. The specific work by Michigan Medicine will focus on the driving forces behind inflammatory processes linked to aging and obesity and how to prevent inflammation that could lead to heart failure, dementia and other diseases.
Florescent image of a human ovarian follicle
Health Lab
Spatial atlas of the human ovary with cell-level resolution will bolster reproductive research
New map of the ovary provides a deeper understanding of how oocytes interact with the surrounding cells during the normal maturation process, and how the function of the follicles may break down in aging or fertility related diseases.
Photo of hand gripping the bannister on a stairway
Health Lab
Addressing fall risks in people with multiple sclerosis
Among people with multiple sclerosis in the United States, more than half experienced at least one fall in a six-month period and approximately one-third of those falls resulted in an injury.