May 2008 Volume 2, Number 4

A publication of the University of Utah Center on Aging

News and Events


Institute of Medicine Task Force Report Released

"The Institute of Medicine charged the ad hoc Committee on the Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans to determine the health care needs of Americans over 65 years of age and to assess those needs through an analysis of the forces that shape the health care workforce, including education and training, models of care, and public and private programs." Their report, "Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce" was released April 14 and is available on-line at http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3809/40113/53452.aspx

Many Center on Aging members are actively discussing how we can work to implement the IOM recommendations to address these pressing workforce needs. Please see the next item for one example.

Utah Commission on Aging Hosts Provider Reception

The Utah Commission on Aging held a reception at the home of the Commission's Chair, Norma Matheson, on May 7, for health care providers from multiple disciplines who are involved in geriatrics. Those attending were briefed about several current Commission activities – e.g. education and training surrounding Utah's new advance directive, and plans to introduce legislation to support a geriatrics loan forgiveness program. In addition, the group discussed the level of interest in forming a Utah state affiliate of the American Geriatrics Society, perhaps partnering with the existing Utah Aging Alliance (formerly Utah Gerontological Society). Please contact Dr. Supiano if you would like additional information regarding these activities.

Center on Aging Faculty Member Spotlight: Paul LaStayo

Paul LaStayo, PhD, PT is a steering committee member of the Center on Aging and Director of the Skeletal Muscle Exercise Research Facility (SMERF) in the Department of Physical Therapy. The SMERF team focuses on muscle structure and function as it relates to improving clinical conditions in older individuals. His investigations span from the molecule to whole body, three-dimensional movement and attempt to better understand the linkages between structural changes in the neuromuscular system and the functional results that impact mobility.

Projects in the SMERF are characteristically interdisciplinary in nature as exemplified by a trio of NIH-supported studies with older individuals who have fallen (1R01 AG031255-01), elderly cancer survivors (1R21 CA114523-01) and older individuals with Parkinsons disease (1R15 CA114523-01). In conjunction with his colleagues in the SMERF, Robin Marcus, PhD, PT and Lee Dibble, PhD, PT, Dr LaStayo has exposed a novel muscular intervention where muscle performs work while undergoing a lengthening (eccentric) contraction, which occurs when an external load exceeds the muscle's ability to generate force. Resistance exercise via negative, eccentrically-induced work (RENEW) is ideally designed for older individuals as the very low energy required to perform eccentric muscle contractions makes the task easy to perform. The very high mechanical load to muscle (high force production), however, makes RENEW a potent stimulus for muscle growth, strength and power. While founded on 60 years of sound muscle physiology, the SMERF team is the first to bring the "negative work" concept to the clinical rehabilitation environment.

When engaged in other forms of negative work, i.e., relaxing, he and his wife Linda can be found exploring the outdoors and trying to find quiet amidst raising 4 teenage children.

Pilot Grant Program

The 2008 call for proposals for the Center's Pilot Grant Program resulted in the submission of 16 applications spanning eight schools and colleges. The proposals are currently being reviewed by external and internal reviewers. The Steering Committee will meet in late June to review the applications and select the proposals that will be funded this year. It is anticipated that the funded proposals will be announced by early July.

Bristlecone Pine

About our logo: The bristlecone pine tree (Pinus longaeva) the earth's oldest inhabitant with a life span of 4,000 years is found only in Utah and five other western states. Its extraordinary longevity and ability to adapt and survive in extremely harsh environmental conditions above 10,000 feet embodies the investigative spirit and mission of the Utah Center on Aging.

If you have questions about the University of Utah Center on Aging, please visit us online at http://aging.utah.edu 801-585-9540 or aging@hsc.utah.edu

Best,

Mark A. Supiano, MD
Executive Director - Center on Aging