The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has awarded Weill Cornell Medical College a $2 million grant to fund an Edward R. Roybal Center for Research on Applied Gerontology, one of 12 such centers nationally. The grant will create the Cornell-Columbia Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL), a multi-institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration focused on implementing innovative strategies for improving pain management among older adults. One of the country's most extensive community-centered research initiatives in the field of aging, TRIPLL is expected to reach more than 300,000 New York metro-area seniors.
The new institute is an expansion of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA) in Ithaca, NY, a Roybal Center active since 2003. Weill Cornell's Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in New York City will serve as the program's hub, with other principal members comprising Cornell University College of Human Ecology in Ithaca, and, for the first time, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, a leader in healthy aging and palliative care research. Other newly added members include the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which offers expertise in oncology and palliative care, the Hospital for Special Surgery, an authority on arthritis and rehabilitation, and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest provider of home care services in the country. TRIPLL will provide support to a diverse population of older adults in the New York metropolitan area in hospital settings – through NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System – and via senior centers, retirement communities, home care aides, and long-term care facilities.
"Pain is a prevalent, costly, and woefully under-addressed cause of suffering in older adults. Its deleterious consequences are far reaching and include impaired quality of life and sleep, as well as decreased immune function, cognition, and mobility," says TRIPLL Director Cary Reid, M.D., Ph.D., the Joachim Silbermann Family Clinical Scholar in Geriatric Palliative Care and Associate Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a practicing physician at the Irving Sherwood Wright Center on Aging at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
"Through the institute's expanded nexus of participating researchers and care providers, we will be able to implement an array of new interventions aimed at improving the health and well-being of older New Yorkers in pain." Dr. Reid's current research projects include testing non-pharmacologic and culturally appropriate strategies for managing pain among older persons.
"A major advantage of the new center are the links it will create between social and behavioral science and various specialties in medicine, as well as its strong ties to community health and social service agencies," says Karl Pillemer, TRIPLL co-principal investigator and the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. "The problem of pain in later life is so complex, it requires such an integrated network of scientists and practitioners working together to develop innovative solutions." Dr. Pillemer is also collaborating with Weill Cornell's Mark S. Lachs, MD, MPH, and Columbia's Jeanne Teresi, PhD, EdD, on a large NIA R01 grant studying interpersonal aggression in long-term care facilities.
Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, Dean of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is a member of the TRIPLL External Advisory Board. A leading geriatrician, she has conducted groundbreaking work in community intervention studies. "This substantive and novel collaboration of Cornell and Columbia with these prominent research centers and community agencies in New York City to improve translational research on pain will result in one of the most extensive community-centered integrated research partnerships nationally in the field of aging," says Dr. Fried. "By leveraging the intellectual, fiscal, and clinical resources of the academic collaborators we can achieve results that would not be attainable by any one institution alone, and improve the health and well-being of older adults who suffer from or are at increased risk for pain."