Resources for Pilot Investigators

Center Resources


Resources for Pilot Investigators

A major goal of the STAR Center is to support investigators in efforts to conduct novel, impactful, basic and translational research that advances social connectedness interventions for healthy aging, with a current focus on caregivers of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia (ADRD). As such, the STAR Center has resources available to help investigators in their efforts and ensure timely and efficient conduct of clinical and community-based research with this population.

The Healthy Aging Research Program (HARP) Recruitment & Registry Core

Established with support from the CTSI Incubator Award Program, the School of Nursing, and the Department of Psychiatry, the HARP Recruitment & Registry Core manages the HARP Registry, a database of individuals 50 years of age and older who have agreed to be considered for participation in healthy aging research being conducted by University of Rochester investigators. With funding from the National Institute on Aging, The STAR Center supports study recruitment activities within the HARP Recruitment & Registry Core relevant to the STAR Center mission: 

  • Assistance with community and/or clinic outreach to caregivers of a family member with ADRD, including: media advertising; dissemination of recruitment materials in the community and UR clinics; recruitment letter mailings
  • Identification of caregivers included in the HARP Registry who may be contacted for potential participation in STAR-funded pilot projects
  • Eligibility screening for STAR-funded pilot projects

Research Coordination

Depending on the nature and scope of a given pilot project, STAR Center research coordinators may be available to assist with research coordination (e.g., study visit scheduling), assessments, and/or data management. The STAR Core Assessment Battery will be provided to STAR-funded studies, which can be administered by STAR Center research coordinators, or the STAR Center can provide training on the assessments (for example, to the investigators’ staff) as needed.

Roc STAR Core Assessment Battery

The STAR Core Assessment Battery includes key domains central to STAR Center science and facilitates synergies across studies as well as promoting efficiency for new pilot studies. Domains included in the battery are: demographics, social connectedness, aspects of the caregiving experience, indicators of health, and well-being.

  • Social connectedness has many dimensions, all of which are central to health and well-being. Thus, the battery includes numerous dimensions of connectedness that capture quality of social relationships (including loneliness, belonging, companionship, and relationship closeness), structure of social networks (including social isolation and integration), and social support. When available, the battery includes assessment measures with empirically validated norms and cut-scores to aid in interpretation of clinically meaningful change as a result of STAR Center interventions/programs, including use of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (
  • The experience of providing care for a loved one with dementia also has many dimensions—including positive and negative effects, types of care provided, perceptions of the experience, and characteristics of the person with dementia that affect the care partner. Thus, the bettery includes numerous dimensions of the caregiving experience to ensure that STAR science is relevant to diverse caregiving experiences and can be interpreted regarding what aspects of the experience that interventions/programs impact (e.g., mechanisms). The battery includes assessments of perceived caregiver burden/stress/strain, as well as positive reactions to providing care, characteristics of stage of dementia of the person receiving care, and services received to support caregiving. When available, assessments included in the battery have been shown to be responsive to change from prior interventions/programs.
  • The experience providing care for a loved one with dementia can impact—and be impacted by—physical, mental, and social health. Thus, the STAR battery includes numerous dimensions of health, including mental health (depression, anxiety, sleep), physical health (physical pain, diagnosed health conditions, fatigue), as well as physical, mental, and social functioning (how well one can get along in the world given health conditions).
  • A primary objective of STAR science is to improve well-being of individuals providing care for loved ones with dementia. Thus, the battery also includes several assessments of domains of well-being, including health-related quality of life and meaning/purpose in life.
  • The STAR Center aims to produce science that can improve health and well-being of those providing care from diverse backgrounds; thus, the battery includes assessment of a range of demographic factors and will also be including participants whose primary language is Spanish.

Data analysis support

The STAR Center Data Analysis Core supports STAR-funded pilot study activities related to both qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research methods. Quantitative study support is directed by Dr. Ben Chapman and includes consultation on study design, power analyses for study planning, and data analyses.

Consultation and training on the conceptualization, design, implementation, management and analyses of qualitative and mixed-methods data is also available and is directed by Dr. Sally Norton.

Connections to Collaborators and Community Partners

The University of Rochester is home to a large pool of investigators engaged in the full translational spectrum of aging research.

The STAR Center aims to infuse social connectedness as an intervention target into our existing aging research programs and laboratories and attract investigators to this research area.

The STAR Center leadership comprises established investigators and community partners with expertise in social connectedness, behavioral intervention development, and caregiver health and well-being.

STAR Center scientists and advisory committee members represent extensive experience with provision of services for, and behavioral intervention research with, older caregivers of a family member with ADRD. As such, STAR Center core members are available for collaboration or consultation with investigators interested in applying their expertise and research interests to questions around social connectedness for caregiver health, and/or partnering with community-based organizations or clinical programs that provide services for caregivers of a family member with ADRD.

Fostering Scholarly and Scientific Development of Social Connectedness & Healthy Aging

The STAR Center hosts and participates in a number of scientific platforms to promote a community of connectedness researchers with expertise in aging.

The annual STAR Center Research Symposium (in the fall each year) brings together junior and more senior investigators in aging research, and community and clinical partners, for presentations of pilot projects funded by the STAR Center, and other research relevant to priorities of the center.

The STAR Center-sponsored Social Connectedness Seminar is a monthly working group of research investigators and trainees that provides a forum for investigators at all levels to present and receive feedback on developing STAR Center pilot proposals, manuscripts, and NIH grant applications in the area of social connectedness. Additional venues, including UR Aging Research Day, grand rounds presentations, and consultation meetings with the STAR Center Cores, provide opportunities for scientific dialog around social connectedness and caregiver health to accelerate investigators’ research goals and programs. If you are interested in receiving updates about upcoming webinars and seminars, please sign-up for the STAR Center Information Listserv.