The 2018 Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in Clinical Investigation was awarded to Heather E. Whitson, Associate Professor of Medicine and Ophthalmology at the Duke University School of Medicine and Deputy Director at Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.
Peter Sayer reports from the 2018 American Geriatrics Society annual scientific meeting, Orlando, Florida.
Dr Whitson also delivered a plenary presentation on individualising health and promoting resilience in medically complex older adults at the AGS.
Her interest in improving care delivery systems to better serve older adults with complex health needs has contributed to the leading role Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development has played in efforts to promote resilience to common “late-life stressors,” such as surgery and sensory loss.
Among several noteworthy highlights from a clinical and academic career that already spans more than a decade, Dr Whitson developed a novel rehabilitation model for people living with both vision impairment and cognitive impairment, and she is part of an interdisciplinary team seeking to improve health outcomes for frail older adults immediately before, during, and after surgery.
More broadly, Dr. Whitson has focused her research career on improving care and health outcomes for older individuals living with multiple chronic conditions.
Her unique interest in links between eye health and brain function, for example, are tracing important associations between Alzheimer’s disease and changes in the eye, which could advance early detection for certain types of dementia.
“Dr Whitson is not only recognized nationally as a leading geriatrics researcher but also as a creative and compassionate clinician,” said Ellen Flaherty, AGS Board Chair.
“That blend of expertise at the lab bench and in the clinic and classroom reflects everything we have come to expect from AGS members.”