Hormonal Changes and Frailty in Older Adults

The work of Anne R. Cappola, MD, ScM, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism and Director, Center for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Pennsylvania, focuses mainly on hormonal changes and frailty in older adults. More specifically, her research looks at thyroid disease and what levels are actually “normal” for older adults and how these levels change as we age, as well as frailty and how the impact of exercise, especially resistance training, can help improve the mobility of frail older adults.

Most recently, Dr. Cappola was named one of the recipients of this year’s Outstanding Statistical Application Award from the American Statistical Association. The goal of the paper leading to this award for Dr. Cappola and her colleagues — including fellow Penn Medicine researcher and award recipient, Wensheng Guo, PhD — was to demonstrate their model for complex hormonal data which monitors multiple hormones and their relationship to one another at the same time in order to observe their patterns. Recognizing these patterns in older adults is important because it is not always the level of their hormones that changes, but it is the way that their bodies are able to adapt to the patterns that changes, and through this model, Dr. Cappola and her team are able to pick up on these relationships.

Learn more about Dr. Cappola’s research in the video below:



Penn’s 4th Annual 5K for the IOA and The Memory Mile Walk!

The 4th Annual 5K for the IOA & The Memory Mile Walk is now in the books!

_DB49093On Sunday, September 20, 2015, a record 435 committed Penn faculty, staff and friends and families of those affected by age-related diseases were up early on a windy, late summer morning to run and walk to raise money and awareness for the work of the IOA. This was the largest turnout for the event since it began in 2012.

The 3.1 mile run started at Franklin Field and took participants through Penn Park with skyline views of Center City from West Philadelphia. The Memory Mile Walk wound walkers down Locust Walk and through the scenic Penn campus. This year, leashed dogs were permitted to tag along for the Memory Mile walk. The top three male and female runners in several different age groups were given awards, while the top overall runners, James Murphy (16:45) and Zandra Walton (19:40) received special prizes, Philadelphia Runner gift certificates.

The annual 5K for the IOA and Memory Mile walk has become a tradition at Penn Medicine. Over the past four years, the event has raised more than $170,000 in support of basic and clinical research into normal aging processes and age-related diseases. This includes disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as osteoporosis and frailty, and more.

“This event is a wonderful way to celebrate the progress we have made in better understanding the mechanisms involved in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s and age-related diseases,” John Trojanowski, MD, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Institute on Aging, told the crowd on race day. “The money it raises also helps us on our mission to someday eradicate these often devastating diseases.” Trojanowski works closely with Virginia M.Y. Lee, PhD, MBA, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR). The IOA collaborates across Penn Medicine, with the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), the Penn Memory Center, Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Udall Center for Parkinson’s Disease Research.

“It is truly a race against time in aging research,” said P.J. Brennan, MD, chief medical officer for Penn Medicine and organizer of the race. “With the population aging, we need the research dollars so that we can increase the treatment options for the growing number of patients with Alzheimer’s and aging-related disorders.”

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For more photos from the 5k for the IOA & The Memory Mile Walk, visit our Facebook page.
For the full list of race results, visit Run the Day.

Published by: Lee-Ann Donegan, Penn Medicine Communications and Nicolette Patete, Institute on Aging

Penn Medical Panel Reimagines End-of-life Care

Published by: Terrence Casey, Social Media and Communications Coordinator, Penn Memory Center

When facing their own mortality, people tend to reevaluate their top priority in life. Is it enough simply to exist? Or is a life without happiness or comfort worth the pain and suffering that comes with terminal illness? This was one issue tackled by a panel of University of Pennsylvania medical experts during “Reimagining the End of Life,” moderated by health journalist Jackie Judd on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.

terryguestblog_endoflifepic1“The end of life leads to lots of existential questions,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn.

For example: “Have I lived a meaningful life?”

“Think about what word you would put in there,” he told the crowd of more than 100. “The reason I use the word ‘meaningful’ is because it’s not about me.”

But for many patients, the top priority at the end of life isn’t complex, said Dr. Jason Karlawish, Co-Director of the Penn Memory Center and Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy. “When people perceive that their time is limited…you see consistently across studies…a focus on present pleasures,” he said. For some, that may be healthy hobbies like crossword puzzles; for others, it could be unhealthy habits from the past like smoking.

In his experience with the Penn Memory Center, Dr. Karlawish saw that many patients sought to organize their affairs well before the end was in sight. “Seventy-five percent wanted help planning for the future,” said Dr. Karlawish, who has previously argued that this planning goes beyond physical health and includes financial planning he calls “wealth care.”

In many ways, the survival-focused efforts of healthcare late in life have taken humanity out of the death of humans, argued Dr. Salimah Meghani, Associate Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences.

“Death has become a medical event,” she said, referencing a report written by the Institute of Medicine Study Committee, of which she was a member. “We have evolved into almost a new species. We have lost what makes us human,” she said. She, like her fellow panelists, spoke in favor of palliative care for the elderly and seriously ill.

Dr. Karlawish said society still has many hurdles ahead on the path towards proper end-of-life care, but noted the arc of history “is bending toward something better than what he have.”

“I’m beginning to see a change in the conversation on death and dying,” he said.


Dr. Meghani is also a member of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, which held the event.