Six Research Projects at Penn Bolstered Through Quartet Pilot Competition Funding

Six faculty members from different schools at the University of Pennsylvania are taking their research one step further, with support from the annual Quartet Pilot Research Project Competition.

Designed to attract new and early career investigators and encourage cross-disciplinary aging research, the competition provides support for innovative or exploratory research projects leading to National Institutes of Health grant applications.

The “Quartet” is comprised of Penn’s Population Studies Center, Population Aging Research Center, Pension Research Council & Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Security and Leonard Davis Institute Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, which together fund the pilot research projects.

“By pooling resources across centers, it leverages research support across the University and encourages cross-disciplinary and cross-school research collaborations,” said Irma Elo, a professor of sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences and the director of the Population Aging Research Center at Penn.

Selected from a pool of 14 applicants, the six recipients will receive funding for a one-year research project that will begin July 1. The average approved budget per project was $22,000.

The recipients and their projects include:

-Heather Schofield of the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School -- “The Impact of Pain Reduction on Productivity and Cognitive Function in a Low-income Population,” which measures pain’s impact on the lives of women in Chennai, India, specifically when it comes to economic productivity, decision-making and health outcomes.

-Megan Ryerson of the School of Design -- “Towards an Accessible Health-care Travel Chain for Elderly Populations Through a User-centered Anthropologic Approach,” which looks at access and travel to healthcare facilities using public transportation.

-Alexander Rees-Jones of Wharton -– “Tax-information Avoidance,” which digs deeper into the psychology behind taxpayers dreading the idea of having more information or filling out additional tax forms, even if it is to their own benefit.

-Hanming Fang of the School of Arts & Sciences – “Long-term Care Financing Using Home-equity Release,” which evaluates how aging people in China can receive long-term care in their homes and use housing wealth to fund its costs.

-Medicine’s Allison Curry –- “Examination of Population-based Driver Licensing and Motor Vehicle Crash Rates Among Older Adults,” which is the first longitudinal study on senior drivers’ licensing renewals, accidents and citation rates and how they change over time as the drivers continue to age.

-Courtney Elizabeth Boen, who joins the Department of Sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences in July –- “Biological Risk, Physical Functioning and Psychosocial Stress Among Older-age Hispanics,” which uses nationally representative, longitudinal data to examine the physical well-being of senior Hispanics relative to other populations and to further assess the stress-related pathways underlying health disparities.

“We are seeing increasing synergy in the scholarship between our faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine, the Population Studies Center in Arts & Sciences and Wharton represented in the Quartet,” Kevin Volpp, CHIBE’s Director, said. “This creates a nice opportunity for us to help facilitate further interdisciplinary interaction between our groups, and we are quite excited about that.”

The program became official in 1994, when the National Institute on Aging provided funding to establish the Population Aging Research Center.

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