Each year, CHABLIS funds a select number of projects that advance the center’s mission of examining how demographic and economic factors influence individual healthy aging behaviors (HABs) and outcomes across the life course. You may learn more about the 2021–2022 and 2020–2021 pilot projects below, or learn how to apply for pilot funding here.

2021-22 Pilots:

Universal Early Screening For Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD) Via Automated Deep Pattern Discovery in Past Medical Encounters

A barrier to accurate screening for ADRD or cognitive impairment signaling early stage AD  is the limitation of current diagnostic and prognostic modalities. Chattopadhyay’s pilot project aims to design a reliable screening tool for ADRD up to 10 years in the future, enabled by novel learning algorithms that analyze deep comorbidity patterns emerging in the longitudinal history of past medical encourages of individual patients.

Sensory Health Trajectories Among Older Adults in the U.S.

A growing area of research recognizes the significance of declines in olfactory functioning in predicting numerous age-related health conditions and the importance of identification of factors that contribute to the impairment of olfaction. Goldman is using data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) to examine how structural features and dynamics of older adults’ social networks and neighborhoods shape trajectories of olfactory functioning.

Circadian Biology of the Endocannabinoid System in Aging

Although the literature shows that aging is associated with well-documented alterations in the circadian system, including reduced exposure to both external and internal synchronizing agents, the impact of circadian misalignment on cardometabolic (CM) rate risk among older adults is unknown. Hanlon is studying whether the 24-hour profile in circulating endocannibinoids (eCBs), which aid in modulation of appetite, glucose metabolism, and reward driven eating, is modified in older adults when compared to middle aged adults. Hanlon further seeks to study whether a dietary intervention may impact eCB rhythm and CM risk.

Comparison of Hospital-Associated Disability (HAD) in Elderly Hospitalized Patients Before and During COVID-19 Pandemic

For older adults, the effects of hospitalization superimposed on the normal effects of aging can be a powerful accelerator of that path and result HAD. The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to increase the risk for development of HAD in hospitalized patients with and without COVID-19. Martinez’s work will examine the prevalence of HAD among hospitalized older adults during the pandemic and study the the effectiveness of the implementation of a clinical decision support tool that guides physical therapy (PT) referral decisions on appropriateness of PT in context of the pandemic.

Using 24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPN) to Examine Association Between Blood Pressure Phenotypes and Cognitive Impairment among African Americans

Prior studies using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (BP) monitoring (ABPM) found that associations between specific BP phenotypes and increased small vessel cerebrovascular disease was linked with cognitive impairment. However, African Americans were largely excluded from these studies. Price aims to understand the prevalence of BP phenotypes among a sample of African American older adults, and determine if these phenotypes are associated with cognitive impairment in this population.

2020-21 Pilots:

Health Care Spending, Mortality and the Macroeconomic and Distributional Effects of Health Inequality at Older Ages

In existing work, Kaplan and colleagues have analyzed the joint economic and health implications of different polices by integrating an expanded SIR model of virus spread into a macroeconomic model with realistic income and wealth inequality, as well as occupational and sectoral heterogeneity. However, this work has so far not considered the role of age as a dimension of heterogeneity. The aim of this pilot project is to fill this gap by expanding both the epidemiological and economic blocks of the model to include older people.

The Rise and Consequences of Alternative Work Arrangements for the Aging Workforce

Koustas’ recent work has found rates of self-employment and gig work to be higher among older workers. As gig workers will not obtain health insurance through their gig employer, documenting whether they obtain health care coverage for themselves and their dependents through other means is important for contextualizing the welfare implications of gig work and for understanding the labor supply of gig workers. The aims of this pilot project are to clean and process new data elements, and to explore and develop new research designs to answer questions around gig work and health insurance in the United States.

The Significance of Race, Skin Color, and Discrimination for Health and Aging

Perceived discrimination, especially ethnoracial discrimination, is a significant predictor of the incidence and/or severity of a variety of health outcomes. However, most studies that focus on perceptions of discrimination between-groups fail to define what is meant by ‘racism,’ and rarely consider alternative measures of ‘race’ beyond dichotomous self-identification measures. Monk’s prior research shows that disparities in socioeconomic status among blacks associated with their skin tone rival or exceed SES disparities between blacks and whites as a whole. This pilot study uses innovative measures of skin color, perceived discrimination, and ethnoracial identity to examine their role in shaping health and aging among older adults.

Impact of Pharmacogenetics in a High Utilizer Program for Older Adults at Increased Risk of Hospitalization

Progress in pharmacogenomics (PGx) has led to identification of genetic variants that impact response or toxicity for hundreds of drugs. To address barriers to implementation, O’Donnell has developed a genomic prescribing system (GPS), which incorporates preemptive PGx test results and translates patient-specific genotypes into concise, real-time guidance integrated into the University of Chicago Medical Center’s (UCM) EPIC electronic health record. This pilot will evaluate whether the Comprehensive Care Physician (CCP) Program, designed to improve care for older adults at increased risk of hospitalization by giving them a physician who will care for them in and out of the hospital, may provide a stronger setting in which to assess the effect of the GPS system for PGx.