Helping people live longer and healthier lives is the goal of the medical professionals at the Center for Translational Research on Aging and Longevity (CTRAL), Texas A&M University’s newest research program in which patients are receiving real-world care and results.
The center, led by Dr. Nicolaas Deutz, is engaged in ongoing, collaborative translational research on nutrition, exercise and metabolism related to aging and the common diseases associated with aging, including include cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF).
“From bench to bedside, and beyond,” said Deutz in defining translational research. “It means that the research that is done here is being translated into something meaningful.”
CTRAL, located in Texas A&M’s Research Park, was approved as an official university center this month by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, announced Dean Douglas Palmer of the College of Education and Human Development.
“A greater percentage of the U.S. population is over the age of 65 than ever before and the average life span has increased 30 years over the last century,” said Deutz.
“This creates an even greater need for improved care and management of older adults through nutritional interventions and exercise,” he explained. “As we age, nutritional needs change, but we know less about the nutritional needs of senior adults.
“Our team is investigating the role metabolism plays in the pursuit of healthy aging and developing a deeper knowledge of how changes in nutrition can affect outcomes in disease and aging.”
Deutz, co-director Dr. Marielle Engelen and their team are taking research beyond the laboratory and into real-world care and clinical practice for patients. CTRAL’s 5,000-square-foot facility comprises offices, labs and a clinical research facility to conduct studies with adult volunteers. Patients are currently being recruited for several clinical trials; the center can handle up to 60 people per study. Patients interested in participating can contact the staff by visiting CTRAL.org.
CTRAL shares clinical assessment facilities with the adjacent Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M. Together they comprise a 10,000-square-foot state-of-the art biomedical research facility capable of conducting a variety of human clinical trials.
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin cited the important role that universities play in promoting and supporting translational research programs like CTRAL. “The center adds another valuable component to the health-related and medical initiatives across the Research Valley, in collaboration with clinicians, students, government, commercial partners and the community.”
The work of the center is supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “As a center, CTRAL will be able to expand and enhance its operations and be eligible for additional grant funding,” said Palmer. “We’re also excited that our students will have more opportunities to work with internationally recognized researchers whose research activities are influencing medical practice and health care.”
For Central Texans, this translational research approach to aging and longevity adds a new dynamic to the area’s health services industry and community, to supplement and complement patients’ medical care. The center’s work will not only benefit the aging population, but will improve health and longevity for people of all ages.
“I think it’s really important to bring the research to the people,” added Deutz.
In the future that could mean building centers or facilities where people have easy access to the tools and nutritional guidance necessary to make better decisions about their personal health and wellness.