Research, Funding, and Awards

  • UConn Pepper Center Scholar Announcement

    UConn Pepper Center Scholar Announcement

    The overarching goal of the Older Americans Independence Program funded by the National Institute on Aging at NIH and the UConn Pepper Center (P30 AG067988) is to increase scientific knowledge leading to better strategies for maintaining or restoring independence in older persons. Our Research Education Component (REC) seeks to train the next generation of leaders in aging research by supporting Pepper Scholars through a multilevel training program including career development activities, education and training opportunities, and support for pilot research.

    Following a highly competitive and rigorous selection process over the past few months, the UConn Pepper Center is proud to announce the selection of three faculty as the inaugural class of UConn Pepper Scholars.

    Jenna Bartley, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Immunology (School of Medicine) and Core Faculty in the UConn Center on Aging.  Dr. Bartley’s project, The Effect of Metformin on Influenza Vaccine Responses in Aged Mice, will examine the ability of metformin to overcome aging-related declines in immune and metabolic responses to influenza vaccination in aged mice to help inform future geroscience-guided trials in older adults. . Dr. Bartley’s mentors include Drs. George Kuchel and Laura Haynes.  

    Cristina Colón-Semenza, P.T., M.T., Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Kinesiology (College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources). Dr. Colón-Semenza’s project, Peer Coaching to Improve Disease Management in Older  Latinx adults with Parkinson’s Disease, will seek to determine the feasibility and test the efficacy of a peer-supported physical therapy approach to exercise in Latinx people with Parkinson’s Disease.  Dr. Colón-Semenza’s mentors include Drs. Amy Gorin, Richard Fortinsky, Kim Gans, and Bernardo Rodrigues.

    Roshanak Sharefieh, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Surgery (School of Medicine).  Dr. Sharefiah’s project, Biomarker Development for Chronic Wounds in the Aging Population, will use Next Generation Sequencing to conduct longitudinal microRNA analyses of blood and tissues of older adults with chronic wounds, with the goal of identifying biosignatures of varied stages and outcomes of wound healing.  Dr. Sharefieh’s mentors include Drs. Donald Kreutzer, Wahila Alam, and Jonathan Hasson.

    Congratulations to Drs. Bartley, Colón-Semenza, and Sharefieh!

    We are grateful to 16 expert reviewers from across UConn for their hard work and diligence, and we look forward to being able to announce future Pepper Scholar and Pilot Study Competitions in the coming years.

    For more information, contact: Kristen Annis-Brayne at