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Clin-STAR: Building on the GEMSSTAR Initiative

Sue Zieman
Medical Officer,
Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology (DGCG)

Most older adults develop chronic medical conditions over time, which can mean greater vulnerability to intermittent illnesses and/or injuries. This makes for calendars filled with myriad doctor appointments across a broad range of clinical specialties, which occasionally may be interrupted by urgent care or emergency room visits or hospitalizations for acute problems. But how well equipped are specialists to optimally care for older patients and navigate the inherent, unique challenges of older adults in these various settings?

NIA’s Grants for Early Medical and Surgical Specialists’ Transition to Aging Research (GEMSSTAR) Initiative is a unique approach to providing physician-scientists with individually designed opportunities for increasing knowledge, research experience, mentorship and career development skills necessary for launching successful careers in their areas of specialty. Developed in response to the Institute of Medicine’s Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, NIA’s GEMSSTAR supports approximately 15 early-career physician-scientists annually to conduct small (R03) research projects focused on an aging or geriatrics issue within their medical or surgical specialties.

NIA is extremely proud of the 147 highly productive GEMSSTAR Scholars from nearly 30 different specialties whom we’ve funded to date, and we recently identified an opportunity to build on this initiative.

What is Clin-STAR and who can benefit?

Building on our GEMSSTAR successes, NIA’s Clinician-Scientists Transdisciplinary Aging Research Coordinating Center (Clin-STAR CC) focuses on connecting and supporting the development of clinician-researchers across a variety of disciplines, such as physicians (including GEMSSTAR Scholars), pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, nurses, dentists and others at all career levels. Throughout its five years of funding, the ClinSTAR CC, managed by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), has organized a variety of virtual and in-person opportunities designed to promote transdisciplinary aging research through networking, collaboration, education, mentoring and career development.

The overall goal is to expand and synergize aging research across clinical disciplines that focus on improving the health, independence and well-being of older adults. The Clin-STAR CC consists of three cores, each composed of an aging/geriatrics research leader and a transdisciplinary team of aging specialty researchers.

A few examples of ClinSTAR CC opportunities launching soon include:

  • Creation of a searchable database to connect clinician-scientists within and across disciplines for research collaboration, mentoring and resource sharing
  • Pilot funding to promote transdisciplinary research
  • Visiting professorships, mentoring “office hours” and mini-sabbatical programs
  • Webinars on aging research and career development, and more
  • In-person meetings, including an expansion of GEMSSTAR conferences.

Get connected to learn about upcoming Clin-STAR opportunities

If you are a clinician-investigator focused on aging/geriatric research who wishes to join the Clin-STAR community, please email Erin Beck at AFAR, visit the Clin-STAR CC website or follow Clin-STAR on Twitter for information on upcoming opportunities as they become available.

Stay tuned for updates on Clin-STAR career development, mentoring and networking opportunities, and leave a comment below to add to this important conversation!

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