Bios of PI & Co-Investigators

Jonathan F. Bean, MD, MS, MPH has extensive experience in conducting clinical research with samples of older adults with mobility problems. Dr. Bean has successfully recruited and retained subjects for completed complex intervention studies using the proposed procedures and others that have utilized more invasive procedures (muscle biopsies). His current intervention study, for which he and his team have completed recruitment of 138 older adults, involves a 3 days/week, 4-month commitment on the part of all participants. The compliance rate is >85% among those who have completed the study. As part of his career development award, he has completed a Masters in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. This training has prepared him to address the methodological and statistical challenges of the proposed investigation. He has participated in several analyses of data from longitudinal cohort studies. Moreover, over the past 3 years, he has gained experience with design and recruitment of a large longitudinal study through his role as a collaborator on the Mobilize Boston Study. He has assembled a team of co-investigators who have extensive experience with the methods to be employed in the proposed study and who have successfully collaborated together in the past. His extensive administrative leadership experience will be an additional asset to his role as PI.

The Boston University Health and Disability Research Institute (HDR), directed by Dr. Alan M. Jette, PhD, MPH, has a long and distinguished track record of successfully completing large field studies and extensive experience in analyzing complex longitudinal datasets. For 10 years, Dr. Jette directed the NIA supported Roybal Center for Applied Research in Gerontology where he and his team conducted several large-scale field studies and developed the Late Life Function & Disability instrument, one of the outcome measures to be used in this project. He also directed a 5-year Center funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research where he and his team implemented several large-scale cohort studies and developed new functional outcome instruments. In addition, Dr. Jette has published seminal articles that have contributed to the field’s theoretical understanding of risk factors for disablement and he has extensive experience in the measurement of disability outcomes. All key members of the HDR research team have experience in large scale field studies and bring unique expertise to the project including: clinical epidemiology & research design (Dr. Latham, PhD, PT), and biostatistics, sampling, analysis, and clinical trial design (Dr. Ni, MD, MPH). The HDR team has a proven track record for successfully implementing research studies that form the basis of the current project. The HDR team will be running the data management and data analysis components of the study. They will also participate in all aspects of project planning.

Suzanne Leveille, PhD is an experienced epidemiologist with a strong background in geriatric nursing. Dr. Leveille has had extensive experience in the design and conduct of research among culturally diverse elderly populations. Dr. Leveille is currently PI of a 5-year study, which is one of 3 projects within the NIA funded Research Nursing Home Program Project, the Mobilize Boston Study, to examine musculoskeletal pain as a cause of falls and disability in a longitudinal cohort of Boston area elders. Dr. Leveille is a member of the Operations Team for the Program Project, which has successfully enrolled 770 older adults in a population-based recruitment. Dr. Leveille recently completed a randomized controlled trial of an internet-based health coaching intervention to enhance management of chronic pain, impaired mobility and depression in primary care patients. Dr. Leveille was also the project director for a 1-year randomized trial of a multi-component disability prevention program, the Health Enhancement Program, for chronically ill seniors aged 70 and older who were recruited through primary care practices in the Seattle area. Of the 201 participants who enrolled in the trial, there was only 5% attrition, which was an exceptional result considering the age and poor health of the participants. In other studies, Dr. Leveille has participated in innovative approaches for enhancing minority recruitment in intervention research. In the Boston community, Dr. Leveille is an active member of the core leadership team of the Boston Partnership for Older Adults (BPOA), part of a national program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation involving a coalition of most senior agencies and organizations in the city of Boston. Dr. Leveille will assist with development of our study procedures, training of staff, project planning and data analysis.

Sanja Percac-Lima, MD, PhD is a primary care physician, geriatrician and clinical investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Percac-Lima’s clinical practice is based at MGH Chelsea Health Center that serves a predominately low income, ethnically diverse population that includes a significant number of refugees and immigrants. She is an active member of the Disparities Solutions Center at MGH. Her current research focuses on decreasing disparities in medical care provided to different ethnic and racial groups—mainly the Latino community and non-English speaking immigrants. Her expertise with respect to the delivery of care, recruitment and retention of a culturally diverse elderly population is an additional strength of the research team. Dr. Percac-Lima will facilitate recruitment especially at MGH, provide direction and expertise with maintenance of cultural competencies and assist with manuscript preparation.

The Institute for Community Health is a unique collaboration among three Massachusetts health care systems to improve the health of Cambridge, Somerville, and surrounding towns. The goals of the Institute are to advance community health research; promote community health education and training; develop community action programs and policy; and forge linkages among three nationally recognized not-for-profit health care systems with shared community health objectives. Epidemiological data and community needs guide the Institute’s activities. Underlying all Institute work is a commitment to understanding and respecting diverse populations, safeguarding privacy, and building lasting relationships among partners. Elisa Friedman, MS, is Director of Evaluation in the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Department of Community Affairs and at the Institute for Community Health. Ms. Friedman’s past and present work ranges from outcome evaluations of community-based programs to clinic-based studies focusing on diverse populations. Ms. Friedman is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and has worked in Mozambique, Angola, Brazil, El Salvador and Honduras. She will assist with ensuring cultural competence with all study activities.