University of Pittsburgh Centers of Excellence
Organizations that establish centers of excellence in education, clinical care, or research are committed to providing cutting edge innovations in their fields. These centers of excellence bring together interdisciplinary teams of academicians, researchers, and clinicians who are recognized nationally for contributions in their respective fields. Their endeavors are funded by national organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), and U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA), among others.
Geriatric research-focused Centers of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh and other regional agencies
are dedicated to ultimately improving quality of life for older adults.
Some focus on specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s or arthritis,
while others conduct research that can be used across a variety of
disciplines. Many also develop innovative approaches to translating
their research findings into improved clinical care.
The NIH-funded ADRC supports Alzheimer’s disease-related research by a multidisciplinary group of established investigators. Disciplines involved include neurobiology, neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, molecular genetics and epidemiology, basic neuroscience, and structural and functional imaging. The center also supports professional and consumer needs, including resources, patients, tissue, expert consultation for research, and clinical and training activities.
ADRC also includes a clinical service, which focuses on the evaluation and treatment of individuals experiencing memory impairment. Accurate diagnoses are established through an interdisciplinary approach with evaluations in neurology, psychiatry, neuropsychology, medicine and social work. After diagnosis, appropriate patients are followed longitudinally and given the opportunity to participate in various clinical studies. Currently, more than half a dozen experimental therapeutic trials are ongoing in Alzheimer’s disease.
Founded in 1987 as the Center for Medical Ethics, and given an expanded mission and renamed in 1998, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law in Pittsburgh, PA, is committed to bringing together scholars and researchers from a variety of disciplines to cooperate in addressing issues in bioethics and law from both theoretical and clinical perspectives. The Center is founded on the premise that the questions posed by contemporary healthcare dilemmas are not the province of any single discipline but require the collaborative integration of insights garnered from history, law, medicine, philosophy, and the social sciences. The Center is not a policy-making or advisory body. Rather, it is committed to in-depth analysis of the complex legal and ethical issues surrounding the health care process.
CRCD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing is supported by a grant from NIH-NINR. The center supports multidisciplinary, evidence-based research in chronic diseases and disorders, focusing on four outcomes -- quality of life, functional status, cognitive function, and adherence to treatment protocols – and the effects of co-morbidities, health disparities, and socio/demographic characteristics. CRCD’s main aims are to:
The Center for Integrative Medicine is dedicated to improving the research knowledge of the effectiveness and safety of integrative medicine approaches. One of the challenges for academic integrative medicine programs is to enhance our research knowledge about these approaches. Many integrative medicine modalities have not been subjected to the same level of scientific inquiry as many Western medicine treatments. Consequently, the Center for Integrative Medicine, in concert with the University of Pittsburgh, is actively pursuing research to support the benefits of these therapies. Areas of research currently ongoing or in development are investigations on the use of acupuncture, an injection technique called prolotherapy, the use of nutritional supplements, and mind-body approaches such as meditation. These studies and the research mission of the Center are supported by local pilot funds, the National Institutes of Health, and philanthropic donations.
The Center is a member of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM), placing it among the top integrative medicine programs in the nation. Members research the scientific basis of therapeutic approaches that may complement established medical treatments. The CAHCIM is a consortium of programs involved in teaching, research, and clinical care focused on integrative medicine techniques.
The Center for Aging and Population Health strives to generate new solutions to the challenges of an aging society through the conduct of population-based research that promotes healthy aging, longevity, and prevention of disability. Building on the resources of the University of Pittsburgh’s department of Epidemiology, the CAPH orchestrates epidemiologic and public health research on aging, train professionals in population research methodology, and conduct community outreach. These efforts are collaborative within the University and the community and engage older adults as valued resources in society. Thus, the focus of the CAPH is to optimize health in older adults by emphasizing health promotion and disease prevention. The center is directed by Anne B. Newman, MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology, internationally renowned for her work in the epidemiology of aging, longevity and disability.
The University of Pittsburgh’s, (GSPH), one of 28 Prevention Centers in the United States funded by the Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Healthy Aging was established by the University’s Graduate School of Public Health. The school has a long history of studies about the etiology and prevention of disease and a highly collaborative network of relationships within the University and local, regional, and state leadership. The center aims to reduce morbidity and disability associated with preventable vascular disease among older individuals with a special focus on those at higher risk because of sub-clinical vascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus; to improve both the physical, psychological, and cognitive functioning of older individuals by enhancing their levels of physical and social activity; and to increase the use of preventive care by older patients and their doctors designed to reduce morbidity, disability, and mortality due to cancer, respiratory infection, fractures, and falls.
The Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion is a Veteran’s Administration HSR&D Center of Excellence based at the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia VA Medical Centers. Center faculty apply expertise in health services research, sociology, anthropology, psychology, epidemiology, economics, psychometrics, qualitative data analysis, biostatistics, and informatics to reduce disparities and promote equity in health and health care among vulnerable veterans and others.
CRHC was established to develop a nationally recognized program in health services research within the university community throughout greater Pittsburgh. The center focuses on mentoring young investigators, conducting collaborative research, and developing educational activities for future health services researchers. It brings together faculty from a wide range of disciplines, from bioethics and health law to medicine to public policy.
One of the original geriatric education centers established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, GEC/PA is a multidisciplinary center devoted to educating health practitioners -- including physicians, nurses, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, and allied health professionals -- to care for Pennsylvania’s growing elderly population. GEC/PA conducts statewide collaborative programs through a consortium consisting of Pennsylvania’s state-related universities. The consortium includes 24 primary faculty who conduct current GEC/PA educational projects, and an additional 52 faculty affiliates who are available to teach continuing education modules or develop curriculum in their specialty areas. GEC/PA participates in activities of the national network of geriatric education centers and provides leadership on the national level regarding distance learning programs in geriatrics and gerontology, including Internet-based on-line courses, videoconferencing, and CD-ROM packages.
Balance disorders in older people are common, disabling, and often complex. A concentrated, multidisciplinary effort to understand causes and consequences and to develop innovative treatments is needed to address these disorders. The team of investigators in Pittsburgh offers complementary expertise, outstanding research productivity, and ongoing studies to address this need through the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. This center includes faculty from five schools within the University of Pittsburgh: medicine, nursing, public health, allied health, and engineering.The specific aims of the Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Center are to:
The Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is a federally funded center of excellence in geriatrics, with research programs ranging from molecular biology to outcomes analysis and doctor-patient communication, clinical demonstration projects in novel means of delivering care in the community, and education programs directed at medical students, physician and allied health science trainees in a broad range of disciplines, and CME for practitioners.
The goal of, “Integrating Cancer and Aging at Pitt” is to establish a standing Cancer and Aging Program within the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. The core mission of the Cancer and Aging Program will be to develop and test interventions to improve health outcomes in older person with cancer. In order to develop the Cancer and Aging Program, over the next five years, we will:
We will build on the institutional strengths to expand collaborative research in three main areas identified in the Aging and Cancer Workshop Report;
Since cancer care planning should depend not on chronological age, but on life expectancy, ability to tolerate treatment, and patient goals, we envision developing a spectrum of care strategies tailored to the individual health and functional status of the cancer patient aged 65 and over. In order to further identify barriers to collaborative research on aging and cancer, and to design strategies to overcome them, we plan a first year series of interactions with critical constituencies from academics and clinical practice at Pitt, with clinicians from the region, and with older cancer survivors and caregivers in the community. We see successful collaboration as dependent on our ability to accommodate and incorporate each potential contributor’s perspective, experience and priorities. In order to sustain feedback loop between our constituencies and our Program, we propose standing academic, clinical, and community advisory groups.
This program will include:
Located at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, HERL collaborates with other institutions to promote the transfer of research findings into assistive rehabilitation technology products and clinical practices. The lab contributes to the design and construction of wheelchair testing equipment, promoting quality wheelchair standards.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) focuses on issues related to the improvement of women’s health, including diseases and conditions in postmenopausal women.
PMBC, established by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University and funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses research in the study of how the mind influences the development of and recovery from diverse diseases.
PMBC conducts research projects on four distinct diseases:
PMBC offers an annual summer institute geared toward early-career professionals with limited experience in health psychology/behavioral medicine or professionals who are interested in shifting research focus to health psychology/behavioral medicine. The Center also provides pilot/feasibility research funding to test new hypotheses on mind-body relationships and physical health, and sponsors monthly science meetings and guest lectures.
The University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) was established by the University of Pittsburgh in 1972 to serve as a resource for researchers and educators interested in the basic and applied social and behavioral sciences. As a hub for interdisciplinary research and collaboration, UCSUR promotes a research agenda focused on the social and economic issues most relevant to our society, including children, youth, and families; regional economic analysis and forecasting; the psychosocial impacts of aging; intergenerational relations; and environmental resource management. UCSUR maintains a permanent research infrastructure available to faculty and the community with the capacity to: