Pepper Pilot Awards

The overall objective of the Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) of the Duke OAIC is to conduct pilot studies that inform the selection, design, and conduct of subsequent larger, hypothesis-driven research in our theme: To understand and optimize reserve and resilience

The Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core emphasizes physiological reserve at the cell/tissue/organ level, which we hypothesize is a key contributor to resilience at the whole person level. The PESC issues an RFA every 2 years for innovative pilot studies that align with the mission of the Duke OAIC.  


The Duke Pepper Center Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) Pilot Studies Program in Aging Research: Request for Pilot Study Proposals


The objective of this solicitation is to seek the highest quality pilot studies in aging research from within Duke University. The scope of the Pilot Studies Core includes, but is not limited to, feasibility studies (i.e., for interventions or other research methodology), development of new methodologies or technologies, analysis of existing data, and exploration of high risk but innovative ideas.

Studies of Interest:

We are especially interested in studies that relate to our focus on “Enhancing Physical Reserve and Resilience to Promote Recovery from Late Life Stressors”. The Center is interested in research on mechanisms and interventions that relate to older adults’ resilience, which we define as the ability to maintain or recover physical function or “bounce back” following health stressors or injury. Studies that evaluate interventions, or support the development or dissemination of an intervention, are highly encouraged. Proposals that evaluate mechanisms of
resilience or methodology related to resilience research should clearly articulate how the findings of the study will eventually lead to interventions or new approaches to enhance and promote resilience in human patients.

CLICK HERE for the full RFA document with application instructions and important dates


Pilot Award Cohorts

Two-Year Pilots:

Haines, Krista Lynn

Krista Haines, DO 
(Department of Surgery - Trauma, Acute and Critical Care)

Personalized Targeted Nutrition via a StructurEd Nutrition Delivery Pathway to Improve Resilience in Older Adult
Trauma Patients – the SeND Home Pilot Trial


DePasquale, Nicole

Nicole DePasquale, PhD 
(Department of Medicine - GIM)

 Relational resilience within care dyads preparing for and transitioning to life on dialysis


Yang, Ting 

Ting Yang, MD, PhD 
(Department of Medicine - Nephrology)

 The role of pericytes in postoperative neurocognitive disorder during aging

1-Year Pilot:

Pietrosimone, Laura Stanley     Lentz, Trevor A.


Laura Pietrosimone, DPT & Trevor Lentz, PhD 
(Department of Orthopaedic Surgery)

Development of a Risk Assessment Tool to Enhance Physical and Psychological Resilience in Older Adults following Orthopedic Surgery: A Pilot Study

Gurpreet Baht, PhD
(Department of Orthopaedic Surgery)

ApoE: A new target to improve aged bone healing


Elaine Gomez Guevara, PhD
(Dept. of Evolutionary Anthropology)

Mechanisms underlying variation in primate physiological reserve


Gentzon Hall, MD, PhD
(Division of Nephrology/Dept. of Medicine)

Understanding the role of IL-15 signaling in podocyte resilience and survival


Adam DeVore, MD, MHS
(Division of Cardiology/Dept. of Medicine)

Resilience after heart transplant or LVAD in patients with advanced heart failure


David Bartlett, PhD
(Division of Medical Oncology/Dept. of Medicine)

Exercise training to promote resilience in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in older patients by enhancing physical and immunological reserve


Anna Mae Diehl, MD
(Division of Gastroenterology/Dept. of Medicine)

Aging Effects on Hepatocyte Reprogramming and Liver Repair


Charity Oyedeji, MD
(Division of Hematology/Dept. of Medicine)

Focused geriatric assessment and biomarkers to determine physiologic resilience in older adults with sickle cell disease


Mihai Podgoreanu, MD
(Cardiothoracic Anesthesia and Critical Care)

Metabolic modifiers and rehabilitation phenotypes in older adults subjected to extracorporeal support (METAMORPHOSES)


James White, Jr PhD, Duke Molecular Physiology Institute (2016-2018)
The Role of Autophagy in Function of Aged Satellite Cells: Optimizing Muscle Reserve

Amy McNulty, PhD, Orthopedic Surgery (2015-2017)
Rejuvenation of Aging Chondrocytes to Enhance Reserve and Prevent Osteoarthritis

Miles Berger, MD, Anesthesiology (2015-2017)
Pre-operative Exercise to Enhance Resilience to Surgery in Older Adults

Dan Belsky, PhD, Geriatrics (2014-2016)
A Pilot Study to Identify Physiological Vulnerabilities to Accelerated Functional Decline
[Quantification of molecular signatures of resilience in aging]

Nancy Allen, MD, Rheumatology and Immunology
Metabolic effects of combined exercise on skeletal muscle in older adults

Farshid Guilak, PhD, Orthopedic Surgery and Cell Biology (2014-2016)
Epigenetic Modification of Stem Cells with Aging and Obesity

Susan Nichole Hastings, MD, Geriatrics (2014-2016)
Skeletal Muscle Mass and Strength Trajectories in Older Patients Hospitalized with Medical Illness

Matthew Hirschey, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry (2014-2016)
Determining the Role of Protein Quality Control in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Disease in Aging

Kimberly Johnson, MD, Geriatrics (2014-2016)
Racial Differences in Outcomes of Older Adults Receiving Inpatient Palliative Care Consultation

Katherine Hall, PhD, Geriatrics (2013-ongoing)
Accelerometry Data for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Older Adults:
Data Processing and Analysis

Juliessa Pavon, MD, Geriatrics (2013-ongoing)
Improving Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis in Hospitalized Elders

John Stiber, MD, Cardiology (2013-2014)
Role of Protein Scaffolding in Sarcopenia

Cathleen Colon-Emeric, MD, Geriatrics (2011-2016)
Outcomes of Nursing Management Practices in Nursing Homes

Jason Allen, PhD (2011-2013)
Mechanisms and Functional Outcomes of Exercise Progression Models in the Elderly

Raquel R. Bartz, MD, Anesthesiology (2011-2013)
Role of Organ and Immune Cell Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Exercise-trained Old Mice
In Response to Staphylococcal Sepsis

Arati Rao, MD (2011-2013)
Linking Genomic Predictors of Frailty to Functional Status of Elderly Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Patients

Amy Pastva, PT, PhD, Physical Therapy (2009-2010)
Aerobic Exercising Training and Attenuation of the Susceptibility of Older Adults to Endotoxin-Induced Lung Injury
(Small Exploratory Study)

Tim Koves, PhD, Geriatrics (2009-2010)
Aging, Inflammatory Markers and Obesity
(Small Exploratory Study)

Helen Lum, MD, Geriatrics (2009-2010)
The Role of Oxidative Stress in Metabolism and Physical Performance
(Small Exploratory Study)

Virginia Kraus, MD, PhD, Rheumatology & Immunology (2009-2010)
Characterizing Age-related Post Translational Protein Modifications by Mass Spectroscopy
(Administrative Supplement)

Elizabeth Hauser, PhD, Genetics (2009-2010)
Identifying Epigenetic Targets of Aging and Atherosclerosis
(Administrative Supplement)

Jason Allen, PhD (2009-2010)
Elevated Plasma Nitrite via Dietary Nitrate Supplementation and Its Effects
On Vascular Endothelial Function and Physical Function in the Elderly
(Small Exploratory Study)

Lee Jones, PhD (2009-2010)
Effect of Aerobic Training on Cardiopulmonary Function and Quality of Life
In Postsurgical Lung Cancer Patients
(Small Exploratory Study)

Jessica Chia, MD (2009-2010)
Role of Aging and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Fibrosis
(Small Exploratory Study)

David Madden, PhD, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (2009-2010)
Neuronal Dysregulation and Disintegration in Function in Frail Older Adults
(Small Exploratory Study)

Greg Sempowski, PhD (2009-2010)
Impact of Zoledronic Acid on Immune Function in Aged and Young Mice
(Small Exploratory Study)

Tim Koves, PhD, Geriatrics (2009-2010)
The Relationship of Gait to Age, Muscle Strength and Endurance in a Mouse Model
With Partially Blunted of Fatty Acid Oxidation
(Small Exploratory Study)

Kelli Dominick Allen, PhD, General Internal Medicine (2008-10)
Strength and Gait Training for Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis and Varus Malalignment

Beverly H. Brummett, PhD, Psychiatry (2008-10)
Positive Emotion and Functioning in Older Adults

William M. Foster, PhD, (2008-10)
Genetic Factors and Differential Response of the Elderly to Ozone:
Effects on Lung Function, and Epithelial Integrity

Svati H. Shah, MD, MHS, Epidemiology, Medical Genomics (2006-2007, 2007-2008)
Gene-Environment Interactions in Aging, Functional Decline and Disease

James T. Cavenaugh, PT, PhD (2006-2007, 2007-2008)
Executive Function and Ambulatory Activity in Older Adults

Deborah Muoio, PhD (2006-2007, 2007-2008)
Lipid Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Age-Related Insulin Resistance

Kimberly Johnson, MD (2004-2005)
Cultural Differences in End-of-Life Care: The African-American Experience

Keith S. Kaye, MD, MPH, Infectious Diseases (2003-2004)
Hospital-Acquired Infections in the Elderly

David Seo, MD (2002-2003)
Gene Expression Profiling of Murine Models of Atherosclerosis

Susan Hedayati, MD (2002-2003)
Depression and Outcomes in Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease on Hemodialysis

Dennis Turner, MD, Surgery and Neurobiology (2002-2003)
Outcome Analysis of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

Maragatha Kuchibhatla, PhD, Geriatrics (2002-2003)
Use of Classification Trees in the Diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Beverly Fermor, PhD (2001-2002)
The Role of Age on Mechanical Stress Induced Changes in Matrix Turnover in Articular Cartilage

David F. Lobach, MD, PhD, MS, Clinical Informatics (2001-2002)
Web-Based Patient Recruiting for Clinical Trials

Virginia Kraus, MD (2001-2002)
Roles of Age on Mechanical Stress

Gregory Taylor, PhD (2000-2001)
Effectiveness of PspA Pneumococcal Vaccines in Aged Mice

Silke A. Schmidt, PhD (2000-2001)
Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Mitchell Heflin, MD, Geriatrics (2000-2001)
Survey of Providers on Cancer Screening in the Elderly

Sandhya A. Lagoo-Deenadayalan, MD (2000-2001)
Aging and Immune Response to Surgical Stress and Sepsis

Dhaval Kumar Patel, MD (2000-2001)
Developing Expression Proteomics Assays to Study Aging

David Edelman, MD (1999-2000)
Screening Elderly Primary Care Patients for Diabetes

Rodney J. Folz, MD, PhD (1999-2000)
Cellular Aging and Extra Cellular Antioxidants

William Scott, PhD (1999-2000)
Genetics of Successful Aging in the Midwestern Amish

Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, Medical Ethics (1995-1996)
Getting Meaningful Informed Consent for Research in the Elderly:
A Structured Literature Review of Empirical Research

Michael J. Econs, MD (1995-1996)
Genetic Studies in Paget’s Disease of Bone

Connie Bales, PhD, Geriatrics (1995-1996)
The Relationship of Age with Indicators of Oxidative Status:
A Potential Opportunity for Studying Aging Process and Life-Style Factors Which Affect It

Martin Sullivan, MD (1995-1996)
The Effects of Long Term Psychologic Intervention on Functional Status of Patients with Heart Failure

Debra A. Schwinn, MD (1995-1996)
Effect of Aging on Acute Myocardial B-Adrenergic Receptor Desensitization During Cardiopulmonary Bypass

Amrit Singh, MD, Geriatrics (1994-1995)
Evaluation of Pain Behavior Detection by Long Term Care Facility Nursing Personnel

Barbara Tardiff, MD, Cardiac Anesthesia (1994-95)
Apolipoprotein E. Allele Frequency in Patients with Cognitive Deficits Following Cardiopulmonary Bypass

Debra Weiner, MD, Geriatrics
Lumbosacral Osteoarthritis in the Elderly: Examining Pain as a Mediator of Progression from Pathology to Disability

Douglas McCrory, MD
Patient Preferences for Treatment and Outcomes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Heidi White, MD, Geriatrics (1994-1995)
Weight Change in Alzheimer's Disease: An Analysis of Morbidity, Mortality and Associated Factors

Miriam Smyth, MD (1994-1996)
Interference with the Role of Sphingomyelinase in Cell Senescence: An Anti-Aging Strategy

Wei Jiang, MD (1994-1995)
A Pilot Study for a Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Effects of Paroxetine on Transient Myocardial Ischemia
and Cardiac Events in Older Patients with Coronary Disease Accompanied by Depression

Virginia B. Kraus, MD (1994-1995)
Genetic Studies of Familial Forms of Osteoarthritis

Michael Econs, MD (1994-95)
The Genetic Aspects of Osteoporosis in Elderly African-Americans and Caucasians

Julie Chandler, PhD, PT, Physical Therapy (1993-1994)
The Personal Functional Goals Interview Protocol: A Refinement and Validation Study
in Patients with Ischemic Stroke

Lynn Hobin, DMD, Geriatric Dentistry (1993-1994)
Increased Resistance to Artificially Induced Carious Lesions in Root Surfaces

Toni Cutson, MD (1993-1994)
Development of a New Clinical Scale for Parkinson’s Disease

Tony Galanos, MD (1993-1994)
Relationship between Body Mass Index and Functional Status

Mark Stanton, MD (1993-1994)
A Randomized Controlled Trial of Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Maya McNeilly, PhD (1993-1994)
Community Based African/Aerobic Exercise Intervention to Improve Cardiovascular Fitness, Exercise Adherence,
and Psychological Well-being, and Reduce Blood Pressure and Weight in Older, African-Americans

Larry Goldstein, MD (1992-1993)
Double-Blind, Randomized Pilot Study Evaluating the Effect of D-Amphetamine on Motor Recovery

Miriam C. Morey, MA, Gerontology (1991-1992)
A Comparison of the Effects of Fitness and Acute Exercise on the Sleep of Older Women