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John Batsis
John Batsis, MD

The NC TraCS Institute has awarded John A. Batsis, MD, and the Division of Geriatric Medicine a 1-year, team science grant to study the early detection of sarcopenia. The aim of the grant is to assemble a group of expert collaborators across the UNC campus and beyond, to prepare for future foundational studies. In this study, Dr. Batsis and his co-investigators will combine novel omics biomarkers with diagnostic methods for the early detection of this geriatric syndrome. He is collaborating with his geriatrician colleague David Lynch, MBBS, a faculty member of the Division of Geriatric Medicine.

Sarcopenia, a geriatric syndrome, is marked by age-related loss of muscle mass and function. It develops due to inflammatory, hormonal, and myocellular changes in response to aging. Sarcopenia is a major health concern in older adults. Because it increases frailty, it can lead to hospitalizations, long-term care placement, mortality, and decreased quality of life.

A chief concern for this study is diagnosing sarcopenia. Specifically, Dr. Batsis is concerned with the lack of cost-effective, bedside diagnostics. Another issue is lack of understanding concerning underlying biological processes contributing to sarcopenia. By using ultrasound in an artificial intelligence framework to assess lean muscle mass, Dr. Batsis and his co-investigators hope to overcome existing diagnostic barriers and offer greater insights into the aging processes.

Specifically, the team will combine radiographic, clinical, and omics data to evaluate older adults with sarcopenia to further understand the mechanisms leading to frailty. Knowledge from this study will lay the foundation for the development of more precise interventions to prevent frailty, vulnerability, and disability related to the syndrome.

Dr. John Batsis is the PI for this project and will collaborate with UNC colleagues Jason Franz, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering (School of Engineering); Daniel Nissman, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology (School of Medicine); and Susan Sumner, PhD Professor of Nutrition (Gillings School of Public Health). The NC TraCS Institute is the academic home of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). The group supports, funds, and connects the translational research community.