News at the URAI
UR Aging Institute Participates in Roc Seniors Estates Planning Summit
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
The URAI was honored to participate alongside many well-known community partners at the recent “Roc Seniors Estates Planning Summit”, which aimed to provide additional estate planning and health education resources to older adults in the Rochester community.
The summit, held on December 8, 2022, in downtown Rochester at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center, was supported by city, county, and state leaders who collaborated with Martha Hope Senior Expressions Inc. Local leaders, including Mayor Malik D. Evans, Councilmember Lashay D. Harris, and Senator Jeremy Cooney were present alongside numerous local organizations, including URAI, engaging with older adults from the Rochester community.
The URAI recognizes that to make meaningful changes to address health equity and resource disparities noted in Rochester communities, we must continue to partner with other organizations and leaders. We are only stronger working together!
Pictured, L-R: Laura Robinson, Ida Earner, Senator Cooney, Audrey Clements
Pictured, L-R: Laura Robinson, Ida Earner, Mayor Malik Evans, Audrey Clements and Councilmember Lashay D. Harris
Highland Department of Medicine Announces New Leadership Roles in Geriatrics
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Corey Romesser, MD
Jennifer Muniak, MD
of the Highland's at
Highland’s Department of Medicine announced new leadership roles for Corey Romesser, M.D., and Jennifer Muniak, M.D. Dr. Romesser has been named medical director for Geriatrics at Highland Hospital. “Dr. Romesser brings a wealth of experience as a Geriatric Hospitalist and administrative leader,” said Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D., chief of the Geriatrics/Aging Division within the University of Rochester Department of Medicine and Director of the University of Rochester Aging Institute, “and is the perfect person to take on this new role of Medical Director. I am confident that he will continue the visionary advancements in geriatric models of care at Highland and serve as a role model and mentor to faculty and trainees alike.”
Highland Receives Reaccreditation for Geriatric Emergency Care
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Highland Hospital has been accredited for a second time by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) program, which is part of an effort to improve and standardize emergency care for the nation’s older patients and promotes the goals of providing quality care for older adult patients.
Suzanne Gillespie Visits the White House
Friday, October 28, 2022
Suzanne Gillespie, M.D., from the division of Geriatrics & Aging, was recently invited to the White House for a COVID-19 roundtable discussion on how nursing homes will handle the coming fall/winter COVID season. The meeting included members of the nation’s leading clinical societies, and Gillespie was invited as she is the president of the AMDA Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care (PALTC).
Leaders from 12 societies were invited by White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Ashish Jha, M.D., M.P.H., and US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. Together, these leaders discussed how they can work together to ensure the most effective COVID response this coming fall and winter, which is expected to see a potential increase of not only COVID, but the flu as well. All agreed that the most important goal (particularly for older adults) is to receive their updated COVID vaccine as soon as possible. It was noted that over the past years, our leading researchers and physicians have made significant progress in making COVID a treatable illness, with the number of deaths down 90 percent since President Biden took office.
“I have seen the difference that clinical leadership can have on Covid outcomes,” said Gillespie. “With emerging variants, it will be critical that we work together to ensure booster vaccination. There is important work to be done and I’m excited about this group’s future collaborations. I recognize many older adults continue to experience illness and death from COVID. As such, I am working to promote primary and booster vaccination for COVID and use of therapeutic treatments (like antivirals) as these will prevent hospitalization and save lives.”
The White House released a briefing room statement on the results and participants of the meeting.
Community Engagement Event at Ibero’s Centro de Oro
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
URMC School of Nursing, Department of Neurology and Division of Geriatrics / UR Aging Institute hosted an interactive education event at Ibero’s Centro de Oro on Wednesday August 31, 2022. A teaching session on dementia and memory loss was led by Dr. Blanca Valdovinos, Assistant Professor of Neurology. Also in attendance were Maria Quiñones (SON), Dylan Ruebeck (Medicine), Ida Earner (Geriatrics), Marie Bell (Geriatrics) and Annie Medina-Walpole (Geriatrics).
Brian McGarry Awarded NIA Career Development Award
Monday, August 1, 2022
Brian McGarry, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and of public health sciences, was recently awarded a National Institute on Aging career development (K) award. The 5-year award, titled "The Impact of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) on Older Adults' Medicare Coverage Choices, Financial Well-being, and Health," will support research examining the Medicare coverage choices of individuals with ADRD. Medicare, the federally funded health insurance program for older adults age 65 and older, is complex and heavily reliant on consumer choice, potentially placing individuals with impaired cognitive capacity due to ADRD at increased risk of financial barriers to needed health services and worse health outcomes. Dr. McGarry's research will assess the impact of ADRD on older adults' ability to manage their Medicare coverage and the role of caregivers in mitigating potential adverse effects. Results from this study will inform policy interventions that can support individuals with ADRD in managing their Medicare coverage.
Geriatrics & Aging Researcher Awarded PALTC Research Grant
Monday, August 1, 2022
Brian McGarry, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and of public health sciences, was awarded the Foundation for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine research grant to examine the impact of ventilation and indoor air quality on the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes during the pandemic. Ventilation is thought to be a key tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in indoor spaces, yet little is known about the real-word effectiveness of strategies to improve ventilation for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks and protecting vulnerable nursing home residents. With support from this grant, Dr. McGarry will lead a study to determine what steps nursing homes took to improve their indoor air quality during the pandemic and whether these efforts help explain differences in resident COVID-19 cases and deaths between facilities. Results will directly inform ongoing efforts limit indoor COVID spread, particularly in the presence of new COVID variants and waning vaccines effectiveness.
Vaccine Mandates Improve Nursing Home Staff Vaccine Coverage without Increasing Staff Shortages
Friday, July 29, 2022
A new paper published in JAMA Health Forum, led by Brian McGarry, Ph.D.,assistant professor of medicine and of public health sciences, documents the impact of state COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers on nursing home staff vaccination rates and reported staff shortages. The study provides some of the first empirical evidence on the effects of COVID mandates in an industry that has struggled with staffing shortages throughout the pandemic. The authors find that state vaccine mandates increased staff vaccination rates without concurrent increases in reports of staff shortages, and mandate effects were largest in when the state policy did not allow for a test-out option (i.e., allowing staff to submit to more frequent COVID-19 testing in lieu of getting vaccinated). Effects were also larger in Republican-leaning counties, likely owing to the lower baseline rates of vaccination in these counties. These results demonstrate that mandates without a test-out option are an effective policy tool to increase vaccination rates, and that initial fears of large staff departures as a result of mandates were largely unfounded. Results also lend support to the recently upheld federal mandate and should inform ongoing discussions about whether to mandate boosters or additional doses in the presence of new COVID variants and waning vaccine immunity.
Read the full article: Association of State COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates with Staff Vaccination Coverage and Staffing Shrotages in US Nursing Homes
Transforming Care at URMC: An Age-Friendly Health System’s Call to Action
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Faculty and Nurses from the Age-Friendly Health System (AFHS) Workgroup delivered Quality and Safety Hospital Wide Grands on July 28, 2022. This rapid-fire presentation and discussion taught URMC about the AFHS 4M’s framework and how it is progressively deploying within UR Medicine and improving how we care for older patients.
Pictured, L to R: Gene Watson DDS, Joslyn Soule RN, Jenny Shen MD, Heather Lander MD, Jennifer Muniak MD, Teresa Halbert RN, Ciandra D’souza MD, Blanca Valdovinos MD, Annie Medina-Walpole MD
Study Shows Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Nursing Home Staffing
Friday, July 22, 2022
A recent study, co-authored by Brian McGarry, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and of public health sciences, published in JAMA Health Forum provides the most detailed description to date on the impact of large COVID-19 outbreaks on staffing within U.S. nursing homes. Using detailed individual level payroll data, the authors find that outbreaks were associated with large declines in the staffing, despite numerous efforts on the part of nursing homes to bolster staffing levels, including hiring new employees, bringing in contract staffing, and the use of overtime. About 4 months after a large outbreak, staffing levels remained 5.5% below pre-outbreak levels; a large decline for an industry that was already short staffed before the pandemic.
Read the full article: Staffing Patterns in US Nursing Homes During COVID-19 Outbreaks
Aging Research at Wilmot Cancer Institute Brings in $5 Million in New, Peer-Reviewed Grants
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Several researchers at Wilmot Cancer Institute have been awarded grants in the fields of aging and cancer. Director Jonathan Friedberg says the notable intake of new, peer-reviewed grants so far this year is due to growth and innovation among Wilmot researchers at all levels of their careers.
Among the projects funded were three focused on aging research.
- Laura Calvi, M.D., and Roman Eliseev, M.D., Ph.D., are partnering to study the mechanisms by which the bone marrow ages. This is significant because abnormal bone-forming stem cells in the marrow can not only lead to osteoporosis but also support the development of leukemia and other blood diseases. They received a five-year National Institute on Aging grant totaling approximately $2.3 million. Calvi has also been notified that she will soon receive a second large grant to study a different aspect of how cancer develops in the aging bone marrow.
- Kah Poh (Melissa) Loh, MBBCH, B.A.O., M.S., received a $200,000 career development award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology Cancer Foundation to support a randomized clinical trial for a new tool to improve communication between doctors and older patients with acute leukemia. She has also been notified by the National Institute on Aging that she will soon receive a grant designed for early-career investigators; this project involves analysis of patient blood and bone marrow samples for DNA methylation, a biomarker of biological age.
- Allison Magnuson, D.O., is studying how to improve communication between physicians and older patients. Her five-year National Institute on Aging grant that totals approximately $2.5 million, supports a project to help oncologists deliver better care to their patients who have pre-existing dementia. It is also her first R01 award as an independent investigator. This type of award is extremely competitive and requires strong preliminary data and goes to scientists with a proven track record of publications. It is an important milestone in the career of a scientist.
Geriatrics Faculty Honored with Endowed Professorships
Friday, June 24, 2022
Earlier this month, colleagues from URMC gathered to celebrate the installation of endowed professors. After being delayed by the pandemic, the group was grateful to gather in person. Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC and UR Medicine, provided both opening and closing remarks. The presentation of medallions was led by Taubman and Jeffrey Lyness, M.D., senior associate dean of Academic Affairs.
Congratulations to these Division of Geriatrics and Aging faculty!
Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D., Ph.D. – Geriatrics & Aging
Paul H. Fine Professor in Medicine
Joseph Nicholas. M.D., M.P.H. – Palliative Care
William and Sheila Konar Family Professor in Geriatrics, Palliative Medicine, and Person-Centered Care
Pictured: back row, Robert Horowitz, M.D., Joseph Nicholas, M.D., M.P.H., and Michael Apostolakos, M.D. Front row, M. Patricia Rivera, M.D., Ruth O’Regan, M.D., Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D., and Thu Le, M.D.
Supriya Mohile Discusses Recent Study in cancertoday Article
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Supriya Mohile, M.D., geriatric oncologist at the Wilmot Cancer Institute, addressed the GAP70+ study she led in cancertoday (June 22). The results revealed that patients over 70 with advanced cancer and aging-related conditions who received geriatric assessment-guided treatment experienced fewer toxic effects from treatment. Despite these results, geriatric assessment remains uncommon in clinical practice. Mohile stresses that geriatric assessment efforts can be scaled up or down, depending on a practice's available resources. "[Clinics] have to do what they can," Mohile said. "If they cannot do the full geriatric assessment, there are shorter screening tools to use."
Read the full article: Tailoring Care for Older Adults
Type 2 Diabetes May Accelerate Brain Aging and Cognitive Decline
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
In Medical News Today (June 6), M. Kerry O'Banion, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, addressed studies from the UK Biobank—a biomedical database with more than half a million participants—which examined Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and cognitive decline. The researchers concluded that T2DM and its progression may accelerate pathways associated with typical brain aging. "The findings are consistent with other studies in the field and highlight the idea that metabolic disease and lifestyle factors that influence its prevalence may be important targets for reducing the burden of age-associated cognitive loss," said O'Banion.
Is There a Link between Sleep and Dementia?
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, professor and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program (AD-CARE) at the University of Rochester Medical Center, talked to Medical News Today, a consumer-focused digital publication, on this topic. Read the article: Dementia and Sleep: What Do We Know about this Link?
It’s Time to Throw out Stereotypes on Aging
Monday, June 6, 2022
Susan Friedman, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine from the division of Geriatrics & Aging, was interviewed for the article, "It's Time to Throw Out Stereotypes on Aging," published in AARP. “There’s a survival benefit to resilience. People can reframe their situation and make the best of it,” says Friedman. And, she adds, “health is multidimensional.”
Read the article: It's Time to Throw Out Stereotypes on Aging
URAI and Geriatrics & Aging Division Join Forces with Wilmot Cancer Center and Ontario Hearing Center at Lilac Festival Event
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Ciandra D’Souza, M.D., M.P.H., Ida Earner, N.P., and John McNamara, AuD., engaged with the Rochester community at the "Health & Wellness Expo" event on May 15, 2022 at this year’s Lilac Festival. The exhibit booth featured a Geri wheel that created a fun way to support health equity by providing direct and in-person conversations regarding fall prevention, balance and hearing deficits, and home safety with a focus on older adults.
Please Join us for the 33rd Annual Genetics Day, May 16th, with Peter Walter Delivering the Fred Sherman Lecture
Friday, April 22, 2022
The Genetics Day Symposium is a long-standing tradition of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and will return to an in-person format held in the Class of ’62 auditorium and the Flaum Atrium. The program on May 16, 2022 will feature a morning session with talks presented by UR faculty, a poster session and in the afternoon, the Keynote lecture delivered by this year’s Fred Sherman lecturer, Peter Walter.
Throughout his career, Dr. Walter has made groundbreaking discoveries in molecular and cell biology. His research has illuminated how proteins get sorted and transported in cells and organelles. Dr. Walter made seminal contributions to the understanding of how organisms protect themselves against the harmful effects of damaged or misfolded proteins. Such aberrant protein species can contribute to functional decline during aging and to several diseases, including various types of neurodegeneration. The cellular misfolded protein response characterized by Dr. Walter and his colleagues is a critical defense mechanism that protects against these degenerative processes.
Dr. Walter is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UCSF and recently accepted the position as Senior Vice President and Director of the Altos Bay Area Institute of Science. He has received many prestigious awards, including the Gairdner Award, the Lasker Award and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Learn more about Genetics Day.
The UR Aging Institute and Division of Geriatrics and Aging Host Education Event at Ibero’s Centro de Oro
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Ida Earner, Marie Bell and Annie Medina-Walpole hosted an interactive education event at Ibero’s Centro de Oro on Thursday April 14, 2022. Information on falls & safety in the home with an emphasis on health equity and disparity was provided to promote health and safety in these older adults.
Ian Deutchki Recognized as "Emerging Leader in Aging"
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Ian Deutchki M.D., Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Medicine in Geriatrics and Aging, was selected for the 2022-2023 highly competitive Tideswell American Geriatrics Society Emerging Leaders in Aging Program. This year-long leadership fellowship augments and leverages existing leadership skills for clinical, research, policy and educational initiatives in aging. His practicum will focus on establishing the Age-Friendly Health System paradigm at Monroe Community Hospital.
Learn more about the Tideswell AGS Emerging Leaders in Aging Program
The UR Aging Institute and Division of Geriatrics and Aging Support a ‘Know Your Numbers’ Event
Monday, April 4, 2022
The UR Aging Institute and Geriatrics Division took part in a ‘Know Your Numbers Event’ with the Department of Ophthalmology at AME Zion Church on Saturday April 2, 2022. To promote health and wellness in the Rochester Community, Division health care professionals sponsored a booth to provide information on falls and offered a falls risk assessment to community-dwelling older adults.
Annie Medina-Walpole MD, Ida Earner NP, Gina Dutt NP, Sarah Howd MD and Kristine Clark NP DNP
Kristine Clark NP DNP, Raje Sathasivam MBBS, Ida Earner NP and Annie Medina-Walpole MD
Director Recognized as a Health Care Hero
Thursday, March 31, 2022
The Rochester Business Journal recently announced Annette Medina-Walpole, M.D., division chief of Geriatrics & Aging and director of the University of Rochester Aging Institute has won the 2022 Health Care Hero Award for Senior Care for exceptional care to older adults while making an impact on health care in our community. The award underscores key efforts led by Medina-Walpole, such as:
- The Great Medication Reduction Challenge at Monroe Community Hospital (MCH) which significantly reduced the total number of medications prescribed for MCH long-term care residents.
- A national survey of all fellowship-trained geriatricians from the past decade. Given the recognized national need for clinical and academic geriatricians, this data provided important insights into career decision making and the relationship between length of training and academic career development. The survey also has figured prominently in formulating new policy initiatives by foundations, national societies and other universities.
- The integrated Aging Theme at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. This incorporated geriatrics throughout the curriculum and has been in use for almost two decades. The program has also served as a national model, and has been used to train thousands of medical students in the care of older adults.
- The UR Aging Institute which is bringing important advancements to our region such as disseminating the principles of the Age-Friendly Health System, training interdisciplinary nursing home teams through Project ECHO® and sharing national education efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Connecting the Dots between Aging, Alzheimer’s, and ‘Junk DNA’
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Vera Gorbunova, PhD, the Doris Johns Cherry professor of biology and medicine and Co-Director Rochester Aging Research Center, and Andrei Seluanov, PhD, a professor of biology and medicine, join colleagues at Brown University and NYU to to explore potential targets of treatments and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases thanks to a new $16 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. Specifically, they will concentrate on the role retrotransposons play in Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration.
Read the full article.
The Journey from Assisted Living to Memory Care
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Benzi M. Kluger, M.D., M.S., professor of Neurology and Medicine, talks to U.S. News and World Reports about what families might consider when moving a loved one from assisted living to memory care.
Read the full article: Is It Time for Memory Care?
Suzanne Gillespie Named President of AMDA Society PALTC
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Suzanne Gillespie, M.D., an associate professor of Medicine from the division of Geriatrics & Aging, has been named president of AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care (PALTC). She officially began this new role during the society’s annual scientific conference in Baltimore.
Gillespie was inspired to follow a career in geriatrics by the vastly different aging experiences of her grandparents. One grandmother aged in place with long-term care supports in the comfort of her own home. Her other grandmother needed to live in a nursing facility after a fall that injured her, and she experienced functional challenges toward the end of her life. Gillespie became interested in quality of care and life in post-acute and long-term care settings, the foundation of her entire career. After earning her M.D. at the University of Virginia, she came to URMC for her residency in Internal Medicine, and her fellowship in Geriatric Medicine.
AMDA PALTC is the only medical specialty society that represents medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners who work in post-acute and long-term care settings. Gillespie joined the society in 2005, the same year she earned the AMDA Foundation Futures award. She has already served the society in many capacities: as chair of House Delegates, chair of the Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee, chair of the Public Policy Steering Committee, a member of the Finance Committee, and chair of the Society’s Workgroup on Telemedicine and Technology.
As president, she will chair the Society’s Board of Directors and work to advance their mission, which promotes the development of competent, compassionate, and committed medical practitioners and leaders in the field. “As president of AMDA,” Gillespie said, “I am afforded the privilege of working with incredibly intelligent and compassionate leaders from across the nation who dedicate their time to caring for the most vulnerable members of our society. They inspire me, and together our work makes a real difference in people's lives. Professionally, I can't think of anything else more exciting. It is really a gift.”
“Dr. Gillespie is a visionary leader,” said Annette Medina-Walpole, M.D., division chief of Geriatrics & Aging, “whose career accomplishments in patient care, teaching, scholarship, and administration are exemplary. She takes the helm as president of AMDA at a critically important time. The COVID-19 pandemic provided unprecedented opportunities for crisis management and leadership at both a local and national level. Dr. Gillespie rose to this challenge and continues to exhibit extraordinary commitment and leadership. In this very influential role, she will advocate for health care providers in the post-acute and long-term care setting, impact national change, and improve the care of the older adults we serve in these settings.”
Read the AMDA press release.
Update, 4/6/2022: Read this Q&A interview with Gillespie about how COVID-19 solidified the increasing role medical directors play in the nation's nursing home.
Members of the Department of Medicine Earn RBJ Health Care Hero Awards
Monday, February 28, 2022
The Rochester Business Journal has recently announced the full list of winners for the 2022 Health Care Hero Awards. Four of the honorees are faculty members of the department of medicine. Congratulations to our colleagues on these well-deserved recognitions!
Winner: Greg Rosinski, RPA-C, from Primary Care
Category: Advanced Practice Provider
This award honors physician assistants whose impeccable performance goes above and beyond in the workplace. Factors to be judged include patient satisfaction and evidence of performance effectiveness, including testimonials from superiors, peers and patients.
Winner: Irene Perillo, M.D., from Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Category: COVID-19 Heroes
This award honors individuals making impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winner: Bilal Ahmed, M.B.B.S., from Internal Medicine at Highland Hospital
This award honors a physician whose job performance is considered exemplary by patients and peers. Factors to be judged include evidence of positive outcomes, patient satisfaction and testimonials from peers and administrators.
Winner: Annie Medina-Walpole, M.D., division chief of Geriatrics & Aging and director of the University of Rochester Aging Institute
Category: Senior Care
This award honors an individual for exceptional care to the elderly. Factors to be judged include evidence of performance effectiveness as well as testimonials from peers and administrators.
The RBJ will host a celebratory event for all honorees on March 24.
Vera Gorbunova Presents Aging Research at Medicine Grand Rounds
Friday, February 18, 2022
Vera Gorbunova, PhD, the Doris Johns Cherry Professor of Biology and Medicine and co-director of the University of Rochester Aging Research Center, shared her ground breaking research in longevity and aging with the Department of Medicine during the February 15th Grand Rounds.
Watch the full presentation: From Long-Lived Animal Species to Human Interventions
Brooke Donaher, OD Increases Access to Eye Care at Senior Living Communities
Monday, January 3, 2022
The Flaum Eye Institute Vision Van team has partnered with Lifespan to provide comprehensive eye care to seniors at their residences. Brooke Donaher, OD, a Senior Instructor of Clinical Ophthalmology, has been providing dilated eye exams, which include glasses prescriptions and an eye pressure check. By providing this service on site for members of Lifespan, the time and transportation barrier to reach an eye doctor’s office is eliminated while still providing a comprehensive exam that can identify age related changes in the eye like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and address the need for eyeglasses.
Learn more about the Vision Van