$3.5 million grant renewal marks 30 years of support for minority aging and health equity across Michigan

DETROIT — The Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, in partnership with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, received a $3.5 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging to extend the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR) to 2028. Continuously funded since 1997, MCUAAAR, whose Wayne State site is administered through the Institute of Gerontology, is one of 18 resource centers across the nation tasked with improving the health of older diverse populations through research, scholarship and education. 

“This program was groundbreaking in that it focused on mentoring junior faculty and also partnering with older adults in diverse communities,” said Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., one of two principal investigators on the MCUAAAR grant and the director of the Institute of Gerontology.

“Our mentoring program to assist junior faculty interested in African American aging research has propelled many careers forward over the course of this grant,” Lichtenberg said. “Over 70% of our junior faculty scientists are African American and over 70% are tenured. MCUAAAR mentoring prioritizes high-quality research based in real-world experiences.”

Principal investigator and co-director Robert Joseph Taylor of the University of Michigan said it is rewarding to see the center’s long-term work bearing fruit.

“As a mature center, we can see the results of our mentoring junior scholars,” he said. “Many assistant professors and graduate students who were mentored by MCUAAAR are now full professors who hold endowed chairs and deans at various universities across the country.”

During the last funding round, Michigan State University was included in the three-university partnership for the first time. Co-director Amanda Woodward of Michigan State said she is excited to build on the unique strengths of each partner university as the center supports and equips future scholars.

“MCUAAAR is helping to build a body of scholars dedicated to understanding and addressing issues important to the health and well-being of older African Americans, and who will contribute to educating future cohorts of researchers and health practitioners,” she said. 

Lichtenberg said he is also proud of how the project has enabled the universities to engage more deeply with the African American community in Detroit and Flint. The grant supported the creation of a Participant Resource Pool of more than 1,000 older adults willing to be contacted about participating in research projects. “In the past five years, more than 80 studies have used this registry for recruitment,” he said. “Our community advisory board vets every project before it is permitted to recruit. Fostering a relationship of trust and transparency with the community is our highest priority. Continuous funding of MCUAAAR has helped us to accomplish that.”

The project number for this NIH National Institute on Aging award number is 2P30AG015281-26.

Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845
Email: julie.oconnor@wayne.edu