2021-22 Pilot Projects Awarded

Through the center grant from the National Institute on Aging, CDHA provides financial support to affiliates who are developing innovative projects likely to receive federal funding. Each year, CDHA invites interested investigators to submit proposals for pilot funding.

For the academic year 2021–22, CDHA awarded five pilot grants:

  • “Post-acute Care Access and Disparities among ACO Medicare Beneficiaries during the COVID-19 Pandemic” aims to gauge the changes and disparities in post-acute care (PAC) access among Medicare beneficiaries in the UW Health system, a local Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO), during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from this pilot project will be used as the baseline for R01-level studies regarding the effects of the pandemic on PAC utilizations, health outcomes, and subsequent health care utilizations and costs among Medicare beneficiaries. The ultimate goal is to make recommendations to the local ACO and beyond on how to improve equitable care access and quality of care for older adults. Affiliate Jessica Cao is PI of the project and will work with investigators—and CDHA affiliates—Yang Wang, Maureen Smith, and John Mullahy.
  • “Frailty, Aging, and Cancer Survival” will investigate the role of frailty/aging at the individual level and community level in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma survival. In addition to measuring the effect of community disadvantage (e.g., poverty and unemployment), researchers will examine how/if the presence of healthcare organizations in a community mitigate the effect of disadvantage incidence and survival. The research team will investigate the role of individual-level determinants of health disparities and will also examine how access to health care may alleviate cancer survival disparities. Affiliate John Eason is the PI and will work with investigators Noelle LoConte and Patrick Varley, both from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Carbone Cancer Center.
  • “The Nation’s High School Class of 1972 at Retirement: Education and Cognitive Aging among Mid-Cohort Baby Boomers” will collect data from the ~14,500 sample members of the precursor to High School and Beyond, the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972. Born mainly in 1953–55, sample members are now in their mid to late 60s. This project will collect, analyze, and disseminate data about their current cognition and life circumstances as well as their physiological status as indicated by whole blood, plasma, serum, and other biomarkers, in order to estimate the effects of education from adolescence forward. Affiliate Eric Grodsky is the PI of the project and will work with long-time collaborators Chandra Muller (University of Texas at Austin) and Rob Warren (University of Minnesota).
  • “‘Jumping through A New Set of Hoops Each Time’—Conceptualization and Assessment of Socioeconomic Disparities in Caregivers’ Access to Resources” will conceptualize the process of accessing resources and assess socioeconomic disparities in resource use in order to advance research and intervention efforts focused on resource use among caregivers. The project’s overarching hypothesis is that service use is driven not only by need, but by caregivers’ existing resources of time, money, and emotional energy, compounded by sequential challenges in the systems navigation process. Conceptualizing this process and assessing how socioeconomic factors are linked to service utilization is a critical first step to understanding disparities in resource allocation and identifying targets for intervention. Affiliate and PI Kristin Litzelman will work with investigators Hyojin Choi (UW School of Human Ecology) and Maija Reblin (Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont) on this pilot.
  • “The Impact of Early Life Exposure to Extreme Weather and Temperature Shocks on Late Life Cardiovascular and Cognitive Health: Evidence from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI)” will contribute to the understanding of how early life conditions affect aging patterns in developing countries. Specifically, since agriculture remains the main source of income for a large fraction of households in these contexts, the researchers will focus on two shocks that largely affect their economic, health, and psychological wellbeing: 1) the occurrence of adverse weather and temperature shocks, and 2) policies aimed at reducing food insecurity, poverty, and promoting economic growth. Understanding life course impacts of extreme weather patterns on aging outcomes is particularly imperative in the modern climate era; the number of record high temperatures and intense rainfall events has been increasing globally and these trends are expected to continue to rise over the next few decades. Lauren Schmitz, CDHA affiliate, and Valentina Duque from the University of Sydney are PIs.