Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) | Rutgers University

We propose the Asian RCMAR to advance careers of investigators from underrepresented populations through translational trauma and resilience research amongst one of the most understudied, yet fastest growing populations in the U.S.: Asian American older adults. Such an important focus in research, population and investigators will inform both practice and policy at community, regional and national levels. Asians are the fastest growing yet most understudied US minority group at 21 million people and growing 56% from 2000-2013. Yet, < 1% of NIH research funding in the last 10 years were focused on US Asian populations, with only 3-5 total funded NIH grants/yr that focus on US Asian older adults. Moreover, this population experiences the “Asian Paradox”: while on average, US Asians, are the highest-income earners and the most highly-educated, more Asians, especially older adults, live below the poverty line, are less likely to participate in biomedical research, and suffer disproportional health disparities compared to white Americans. These health inequities are further complicated by the heterogeneity of these immigrant populations, especially with respect to culture, religion, language, sexual identity, and trauma exposure, many of which challenge our assumptions about the “model minority” stereotype. Such exposures and heterogeneities lead to isolation and further removal from opportunities to participate in research, thus restricting benefits conferred from population level research. However, despite this diversity, there are unifying themes across Asian cultures with regard to shared experiences of immigration, trauma, strong family bonds, cultural values and expectations, and the intergenerational nature of the aging process.

Building on two decades of rigorous aging research in minority populations and track records of successful academic achievements, we have leveraged strong existing transdisciplinary partnerships across multiple academic and community institutions to build a center designed to foster the next generation of diverse researchers in a nurturing environment that is conducive to success and promotes highly relevant and rigorous trauma, resilience and health outcomes research among Asian American older adults. We propose the following scientific lines of inquiry:

  • 1) Understand the cross-ethnic variations in the social, cultural, and behavioral mechanisms of trauma and stress across Asian populations;
  • 2) Explore the potential differential health outcomes associated with trauma, immigration, and mechanisms of resilience in ameliorating adverse consequences among Asian populations; and
  • 3) Build institutional and community capacity that tests and adapts and implements evidence based behavioral change strategies to prevent and treat trauma, promote resilience, and mitigate the effect of stressful events in Asian aging populations. The overall aims of the application reflect the synergistic work of Administrative (AC), Research Education (REC), Measurement and Analysis (AnC) and Community Liaison and Recruitment (CLRC) Cores.