Columbia University Medical Center

New Center To “Bridge The Gap” Between Ethnic Aging Populations And University Researchers

By the turn of the century, Columbia University researchers may discover new factors in determining how doctors diagnose and treat ethnic aging populations. A new resource in aging research funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research,, called the Columbia Center for the Active Life of Minority Elders (CALME), will be established as the only federally funded center on the east coast for minority aging related research. Its focus will range from diabetes and heart disease to depression and Alzheimer’s. CALME, sponsored jointly by the Columbia University Department of Medicine and the Morris W. Stroud III Center for Study of Quality of Life, is located in the heart of two contiguous minority communities: Washington Heights/ Inwood and Harlem. Increases in the aging population will create a surge of interest in research on aging. The center’s main goal is to provide opportunity, support, and guidance for young minority researchers interested in the field of aging. Each year, as a way of encouraging young minority investigators, the center will present four development awards to qualified investigators. “CALME will enable minority researchers to assume leadership roles, engage in rigorous research, and demonstrate pathways to bridge existing gaps in health status and care between minority and majority aging populations,” says Rafael Lantigua, M.D., professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and director of the new center. Many academic medical centers are surrounded by minority communities, yet little is known about the health of minority elders. The center provides young minority researchers mechanisms to enhance ties with leaders in the surrounding community and experts in the field of aging. CALME will be the site where statisticians, methodologists and experts in the field of aging can share expertise with minority researchers. Through the center, minority investigators will gain and maintain access to elder populations for focused aging research. In return, the neighboring community will be more aware of ongoing research and will give feedback and guidance into the feasibility of conducting certain types of research. CALME will “bridge the gaps” between ethnic aging populations and University researchers by creating culturally sensitive strategies and measurement tools for use in elder minority populations. This alliance — a new frontier in health care–will pinpoint gaps in the differences among ethnic aging populations and facilitate new enterprises in aging research. “Before CALME there was no single entity to enable researchers to do this,” says Barry Gurland, M.D., the Sidney Katz Professor and director of the Stroud Center and co-director of CALME. “Thanks to Dr. Lantigua, Columbia-Presbyterian now has the massive apparatus dedicated to specifically concentrate on these issues.” No one person understands the value of these issues more than Dr. Lantigua, who came to Columbia in 1980 as a highly motivated young minority researcher. Today as Stroud Scholar, director of medical research in the Stroud Center, and director of outpatient services for Columbia-Presbyterian, he is the driving force behind CALME. He personifies the center’s goals by being deeply immersed in the academic and neighboring aging communities. He brings to the center his clinical excellence and judgment with a seasoned empathy for treating patients. Under his direction, CALME will allow minority researchers to emerge as established researchers. CALME, funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research, will develop national models in aging research that blend basic research with clinical treatment. For more information contact Dr. Lantigua at 212-305-6262.