Research initiatives led by the Benjamin Leon Center for Geriatric Research and Education at Florida International University include studies involving primary data collection in older adults of Hispanic origin living in South Florida in both the clinical and community settings. Additionally, the Center has actively engaged in collaboration with top academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad for the conduct of secondary data analyses studies. The Center welcomes academic and non-academic organizations interested in developing strategic partnerships for the planning and/or implementation of translational epidemiology and health outcomes research.

Selected research initiatives to date have included the following:


Florida International University-Wide Pilot Initiative on Aging and Health

In 2014-2015, the Benjamin Leon Center for Geriatric Research and Education led a University-wide initiative on aging and health. The Initiative was supported by a major (R01-like) grant from the Florida State Legislature. Dr. Paulo Chaves, Leon Medical Centers Chair in Geriatrics and Director of the Benjamin Leon Center for Geriatric Research and Education, was the Principal Investigator for the Initiative, which consisted of four subprojects involving 16 faculty from Departments across three different Florida International University Colleges, over 11 students, and 10 staff members.

Subprojects were the following: (a) Roadmap (strategic plan) development to guide the Aging Initiative (Leader: Dr. Paulo H. M. Chaves Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine; (b) Pilot Quantitative Assessment health research project involving evaluations of mobility and frailty status, as well as of behavioral and social determinants of health via face-to-face interviews and physical examinations in older Hispanics living in Miami-Dade (Leaders: Dr. Iveris Martinez, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine; and Dr. Edgar Vieira, Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences); (c) Pilot Qualitative Assessment health research aimed at exploring social determinants contributing to the use of emergency department for non-emergency care by a diverse population of older adults in Miami-Dade County via qualitative interviews conducted in the Emergency Department setting (Leaders: Dr. Richard Beaulaurier, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work; and Dr. Michael Mintzer, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine; and (d) development and launching of the Care Heroes Dashboard, designed as a model of health- oriented web/app platforms to improve disease management and provide case managers, caregivers, primary care providers and their staff with the ability to share critical health-related information in real time and the ability to access vetted caregiving information and local resources (Leader: Dr. Ellen Brown, Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences). This initiative was depicted in a local health television show.

The information generated by this pilot initiative is now serving as the basis for scholarly activities, and as preliminary data for larger research and educational efforts in the areas of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

Health Outcomes Research in the Primary Clinical Care Setting

In close collaboration with Leon Medical Centers, a major healthcare services provider in South Florida and strategic partner, the Center has been conducting health outcomes research. Recently, Dr. Chaves and colleagues assessed the effectiveness of a multifaceted hypertension control program in the primary care setting in a large population of Medicare beneficiaries of Hispanic origin in South Florida, and the additional impact on blood pressure control associated with participation in a wellness program in that population. Results of those studies were recently presented in the 2016 American Geriatrics Society and Gerontological Society of America annual scientific meetings.

Investigation of the Epidemiology of Age-related Chronic Diseases and Geriatric Syndromes

The Center has actively collaborated with leading academic institutions nationally and internationally in the conduct and dissemination of observational studies addressing the epidemiology of age-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease; and geriatric syndromes, including frailty, sarcopenia, disability, and falls. Studies have addressed, for example, the role and/or measurement of physiologic parameters, psycho-social and behavioral determinants of health underlying the epidemiology of age- related chronic diseases and geriatric syndromes. Those studies have involved secondary data analyses of well-established national and international databases accessed through collaborative partnerships (e.g., the Cardiovascular Health Study – CHS), and/or that are publicly available. As a result of these active collaborative efforts, research articles have been published in high impact peer-reviewed journals and presented in major conferences and meetings, ensuring a high levels of scholarly productivity.