Wright State University has received a federal grant to support a joint research project with two of Ohio’s largest colleges.
The five-year, $3 million consortium grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health’s Institute on Aging (NIA). With it, Wright State will work with Ohio State University and Ohio University to study age-related weakness.
The lab of Sherif Elbasiouny, professor of neuroscience, cell biology and physiology and director of neuroengineering education and research at Wright State, will lead the research and receive about 50% of the funding.
Weakness is a major risk factor for the development of physical disability in older adults. About 42% of older adults have physical limitations performing daily tasks that are essential for maintaining independence, according to a study from the University of Florida.
Elbasiouny said little is known about the changes in the nervous system during aging. For years, age-related weakness and frailty were largely attributed to the loss of muscle mass, but data now indicates mass plays a lesser role than initially thought, he said.
“Work in our laboratories at Wright State, Ohio State and Ohio University suggests that other neurological factors are critical in the development of weakness,” he said. “The present grant from NIA will help us address that limitation by examining the neurological mechanisms contributing to age-related weakness.”
William Arnold, a neurology professor at Ohio State; and Brian Clark, professor of physiology and neuroscience at Ohio University, will work with Elbasiouny to examine the neural mechanisms underlying weakness in aging.
Elbasiouny said the research has the potential to identify early neural biomarkers for weakness and develop new interventions to enhance strength and function in older adults.
“The work at Wright State specifically could additionally identify novel therapeutic targets for treating or preventing weakness in aging,” he said.
Wright State has inked several major grants from the National Institutes of Health this year, including a $1.7 million award that could aid development of an “uber-sunscreen” for people with sun sensitivity and a $450,000 grant to accelerate research related to Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
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