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Claude D. Pepper Center

The University of Maryland Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (UM-OAIC) was established in 1994. Since that time, we have successfully demonstrated that rehabilitation interventions improve cardiovascular fitness, ambulation (walking), balance and activities of daily living which can reduce health-related risk factors in older individuals with chronic disabling diseases. The UM-OAIC is made possible by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIH).

Our Goal

The UM-OAIC goal is to build on the sciences and therapeutic applications of exercise and rehabilitation by: 1) advancing our understanding of the mechanisms by which exercise and activity-based and multi-modal rehabilitation interventions directed at specific impairments affect multiple body systems; 2) developing and testing interventions to restore function and minimize disability following acute disabling events and to prevent declines related to serious chronic diseases; and 3) training the next generation of investigators who will further the understanding of the aging process and develop interventions that help promote health and independence in older adults with disabling medical conditions.

Our Mission

The UM-OAIC mission addresses the process by which function is lost, and the multiple factors that affect the onset and progression of disability.  Building on these important perspectives, the UM-OAIC focuses on the restoration of function in order to improve function in those with impairments, and prevent or delay further progression in those who are already disabled. This has been aptly referred to as enablement.

The UM-OAIC continues to focus its research on the processes involved in enablement by identifying the impairments associated with specific disabling conditions, investigating the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying  those conditions, and developing exericse, activity-based, and multi-modal rehabilitation interventions that target these mechanisms and impairments testing the efficacy of these interventions in clinical laboratories under carefully controlled conditions and then adapt and evaluate their use in home and other community settings.

Center Activities

The UM-OAIC is investigating innovative ways to maintain or restore independence for older adults. Our mission is being accomplished by:

  • Conducting research on the mechanisms that underly the functional impairments associated with prevalent chronic diseases in older people, such as stroke, hip fracture, obestiy, Type-2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, Parkinson's disease, and vascular disease; 
  • Designing novel, efficacious rehabilitation interventions that produce clinically relevant outcomes and study the mechanisms underlying these interventions;
  • Translating interventions found to be efficacious in UM-OAIC clinical laboratories and other clinical centers for implementation and rigorous evaluation outside the clinic (e.g., home, senior center, gym);
  • Supporting pilot and exploratory studies (PESs), UM-OAIC Scholar research, development projects (DPs), and externally funded projects (EP) that are consistent with the UM-OAIC theme; 
  • Supporting the development of junior faculty and Scholars from multiple disciplines as they pursue careers as independent, academic scientists and leaders with expertise in the study of older persons with disabling diseases through mentor-based, didactic and experiential training in bench-to-bedside-to-community translational reserach.

The UM-OAIC has three resource cores (RC): Biostatistics and Informatics (RC1); Applied Physiology and Mechanisms (RC2); and Rehabilitation Science and Technologies (RC3), that serve as a resource for the conduct of innovative exercise and activity-based rehabilitation research.  An enhanced Research Education Core (REC) will provide didactic and experiential, and leadership training under the guidance of interdisciplinary mentoring teams to prepare the next generation of scientists committed to careers in aging research. A Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) supports the development and execution of pilot and Scholar projects.


Funding Opportunities


The Center is excited to offer the opportunity for Pepper Center pilot investigators and junior scholars as well as Pepper Center affiliates that are interested in applying for a pilot or junior scholar position in the future to apply for micro-funds ranging from $500-$2,000 for a current project that relates to the Pepper Center theme.  There is no deadline to apply as funds are available on an as needed basis.

For more information, refer to 2022 Micro-funding.

Career Opportunity

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Division of Gerontology Director

Career Opportunities | University of Maryland School of Medicine (

For More Information

Contact Anne Sullens