Core Research

The core research of the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) is led by scientists with a strong history of collaboration, expertise in geriatrics and palliative care, and leadership experience.

The Leadership and Administrative Core is housed in the offices of the Chairman of the Mount Sinai Department of Geriatrics. Core staff consists of:

  • Center Primary Investigator and Core Leader: Albert L. Siu, MD
  • The Leaders of the Research Education Component: Nathan Goldstein, MD and Juan Wisnivesky, MD, PhD; Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core leaders William Hung and Barbara Vickrey, MD, MPH; Population Research and Effectiveness Core leaders:  Melissa Aldridge, PhD; and Lihua Li, PhD; Measurement and Data Management Core leaders: Jeanne Teresi, PhD and Mildred Ramirez, PhD; Population Data Use and Management Core leaders: Claire Ankuda, MD, MPH and Carolyn Zhu, PhD.

Three standing committees advise the Center regarding policy and conduct of its programs:

  • An OAIC Executive Committee (OAIC EC or EC) of OAIC core leaders and institutional leadership
  • A Research Advisory Committee (RAC) of senior investigators not currently involved in the OAIC as investigators or mentors

An OAIC External Advisory Board (OAIC EAB) of outside experts which meet annually to review progress

Co-led by Nathan Goldstein, MD and Juan Wisnivesky, MD, PhD, the OAIC’s Research Education Component (REC) at the Icahn School of Medicine reinforces junior faculty’s interest in improving the care of seriously ill, older adults with educational activities and training experiences while promoting the development of future research leaders.

The REC’s specific objectives are to:

  • Recruit talented faculty from different disciplines who are committed to academic careers improving the care of older adults with serious illness
  • Provide advanced training in research methodologies needed to conduct high quality, ethical, and multidisciplinary palliative care research for seriously ill older adults
  • Provide multidisciplinary mentorship and individually tailored career development plans
  • Support trainees in conducting and disseminating research studies to assess questions related to the health and independence of older adults or related palliative care issues
  • Facilitate attainment of academic and life skills to sustain long-term success as independent investigators and future leaders in geriatric and palliative care medicine

Prepare and assist trainees in obtaining external funding to continue an academic research career

The Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC), led by William Hung, MD and Barbara Vickrey, MD, MPH, builds upon a 15-year foundation of research in palliative care, disability, and function at Mount Sinai; an established record of successful mentorship by the OAIC senior investigators; and a strong and consistent track record in conducting collaborative and interdisciplinary research that will accomplish the following specific aims:

  • Facilitate pilot and exploratory studies that will examine the relationship of pain and other distressing symptoms to independence, function, and disability; develop interventions directed at the treatment of pain and other distressing symptoms in older adults; and explore interventions to improve quality of life and promote function and independence for older adults living with serious and chronic illness
  • Encourage the development of junior faculty by providing a mechanism to obtain mentored, hands-on research training and develop preliminary data in aging and palliative care that will lead to the development of larger federally or foundation-funded research projects and career development awards focused on improving care and promoting independence for older adults with advanced illness
  • Support senior and mid-level faculty who are conducting studies in palliative care and aging who are embarking on new research projects requiring pilot data; palliative care research in younger populations who would like to expand or shift their research into aging; and aging research unrelated to palliative care who would like to refocus their work to fit within our OAIC theme
  • Foster collaborative research among investigators from different disciplines, specialties, and institutions

The Population Research and Methods Core (RC-PRM) contributes to the goals of the OAIC by providing statistical, methodological, and programming expertise, as well as mentoring in those areas, to investigators in the School’s OAIC. Headed by Melissa Aldridge, PhD and Lihua Li, PhD, this core has been highly productive in providing consultations and support for numerous OAIC investigators confronted with methodological and analytic issues that occur in the study of older adults with serious illness. Our Core’s consultants have a broad range of knowledge regarding research methods to serve as potential consults to OAIC investigators. Resources and expertise provided in a variety of ways and throughout all phases of the research process—from design to interpretation and presentation of findings to:

  • To provide sophisticated, cutting edge methodological, statistical, and programming support to OAIC investigators.
  • To apply advanced research and statistical methodology (e.g., propensity scores, instrumental variable estimation, competing risk analysis) used in other fields but not commonly applied to aging-related research.
  • To collaborate closely with the RCDC and RCDSC to ensure that junior faculty obtain research methods training to advance their current knowledge and expertise.
  • To develop the infrastructure for population based research by hiring and training data analysts who will conduct data management and programming functions and provide statistical expertise in cutting edge research methods.

One to two times per year, we will announce a Request for Proposals, which will fund investigators performing pilot/exploratory studies in population based geriatric/palliative care research. Check back here for updates. View the most recent RFP for reference.

This core proves faculty-level biostatistician consultations and support for investigators confronted with methodological and analytic issues that occur in the study of older adults with serious illness. Request a biostatistician consultation by filling out the below form.

Patients and family members often feel strained when asked to assess and quantify symptoms, physical impairment, satisfaction, and caregiver burden in questionnaires, impeding research. The major goal of the Measurement, Methods and Analysis Core (RC-MMA), led by Jeanne Teresi, EdD, PhD and Mildred Ramirez, PhD, is to address such measurement challenges using item banking and the methods of modern psychometric theory through the following specific aims:

  • To assist OAIC investigators (from this and other centers) in evaluating measures, and, where appropriate, in the selection, use, and construction of item response theory (IRT)-derived measures from existing sources (e.g., the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System [PROMIS] Roadmap Initiative)
  • To apply psychometric techniques to items from existing palliative care and related data sets to test model assumptions, examine distributions, and prepare data for analyses
  • To conduct IRT analyses using data from ongoing NIH-funded palliative care research with the goal of constructing a palliative care item bank as part of a later developmental project in years 3-5 of this OAIC
  • To provide data management, in coordination with RC-RDA, for studies supported by the other OAIC cores
  • To disseminate this information to researchers interested in geriatric palliative care through presentations and publications, the National Palliative Care Research Center and other major national initiatives, and the development of a website with links to PROMIS and related website

The goal of the Population Data Use and Management (RC-PDM) Core is to leverage existing national survey, administrative and health system data to support OAIC research on geriatric palliative care.RC-PDM was launched in 2020 and is led by Claire Ankuda, MD, MPH and Carolyn Zhu, PhD. The core provides data management and operational support to OAIC investigators working with existing data sources, including the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), the Medicare Current Beneficiary Study (MCBS), and publicly available geographic data.

To request support from RC-PDM, please complete this form.