James S. Jackson

Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research

Research Project Description

The Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR), a mature social and behavioral science center of the Resource Center for Minority Aging Research program, proposes to expand its reach and impact by mentoring junior faculty (most of whom will be African American) and by focusing on African American Life-course health research. Michigan State University (MSU) will formally join the University of Michigan (UM) and Wayne State University (WSU) to form the new MCUAAAR. Our three specific aims include: 1) Increase reach and coverage by including Michigan State University as a full partner in the MCUAAAR; 2) Recruit and mentor 15 new junior researchers; and, 3) Increase important research on the life-course experiences of older adults of diverse ethnic and racial populations, especially African Americans. Four cores are proposed in this application; Administrative, Analytic, REC and CLRC. We will employ an integrative approach to mentoring, entailing a structured set of activities and training across the pilot funding period: (a) Formal goals will be set at the beginning of the pilot and reviewed in monthly MCUAAAR meetings; (b) Based on the goals set, a mentoring team will be assembled to assist with research, dissemination of findings, and research translation; (c) A set of training activities in scientific writing, measurement, and community-based research partnerships will be conducted each year; (d) A formal six-month evaluation will be conducted and shared with the MCUAAAR faculty; and, (e) During the second year, an ongoing MCUAAAR mentor will be assigned to assist with publications and grant preparation and provide support to junior researchers attending conferences. There will also be opportunities for longer-term mentoring and training in the program. We continue to be motivated by an NIH-funded series of studies (e.g., Ginther et al., 2011) in which applications from black scientists were shown to be 10 percentage points less likely to obtain grant awards than applications from white investigators; in practical terms, this gap means that white applicants are about twice as likely as blacks to be approved and funded. The RCMAR program has been important in helping to eliminate this gap for RCMAR researchers overall, and we continue to focus on the importance of abolishing the disparity for African American researchers in particular. We are also motivated by the continuing disparities in chronic disease and mortality among older African Americans.

National Institute on Aging

Funding Period: 9/15/2018 to 6/30/2023