72°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Rosalie Wolf Interdisciplinary Geriatric Health Care Research Center Receives $200,000 Grant

Trustees of the John A. Hartford Foundation. (Photo courtesy JAHF)
Trustees of the John A. Hartford Foundation. (Photo courtesy JAHF)

As a public university that is dedicated to academic excellence, UMass Boston, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has earned a two-year $200,000 grant to develop the new The Rosalie Wolf Interdisciplinary Geriatric Health Care Research Center.

Make no doubt about it, America is aging and the phenomenon deserves attention. Even in light of astonishing statistics to support this, few universities and medical schools have been able to secure the amount of resources necessary to advance geriatric research, clinical care and education. UMass Boston and UMMS stand distinguished as the new center is one of only seven nationwide to be awarded funding to conduct advanced research in aging. Thanks to the grant awarded by the Board of Trustees of the John A. Hartford Foundation, in association with the RAND Corporation, the new center can focus its research efforts on four essential fields: patient medication safety, chronic disease, patient communication and health literacy, and also the training of students and junior faculty.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before at UMass, making this new initiative particularly exciting,” says Dr. Mutchler. A nationally recognized expert in the use of drug therapy for seniors, Dr. Gurwitz, undoubtedly shares in the excitement and feels that the new center places the University of Massachusetts in a position to have a national impact on the quality of healthcare provided to older people.

“Many of the problems that older adults are confronted with fall across many disciplines,” and according to Dr. Mulcher, all involved in the University of Massachusetts initiative are “getting at the heart of the matter.” Since “the issues are so broad,” Dr. Gurwitz says, “no single discipline can address them in isolation.” Therefore, with talented faculty from both campuses and across a particularly broad spectrum of research expertise, including geriatric medicine, gerontologic nursing, social gerontology, economics, family medicine, human development, preventive and behavioral health, psychology, social welfare, sociology, and urban planning; the new center will engage the issue of health for older adults using an interdisciplinary approach. Apparently, the National Institute of Health is trying to facilitate this sort of cross-disciplinary research collaboration – and according to Dr. Mutchler; the University of Massachusetts is starting an important trend.

This is one of the first times that UMMS and UMass Boston are collaborating on such a major project and Dr. Gurwitz is confident that their initiative will serve as a “great model for future initiatives related to other disciplines.” As a matter of fact, Dr. Gurwitz perceives the University of Massachusetts cross initiative to be the very reason as to why the new center was able to cut above competition and be awarded the grant: “The university as a whole has a lot of strengths – but spread out. None had enough diversity in the discipline on its own to do what this initiative will.”

The new UMass center will honor the memory of Rosalie S. Wolf, PhD, a UMMS Assistant Professor of Family Medicine & Community Health and Executive Director of the Institute of Aging at UMass Memorial Health Care. Dr. Wolf made crucial contributions to geriatric studies and her efforts to bring the issue of elder abuse and neglect to the center stage received international attention.

The Principal Investigators for the project are Jerry Gurwitz, MD, Kathleen Miller, EdD, RN, and Jan Mutchler, PhD. Dr. Gurwitz holds the Dr. John Meyers Professorship in Primary Care, is the Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and serves as Executive Director of the Meyers Primary Care Institute, a joint endeavor of UMMS, the Fallon Clinic Foundation and Fallon Community Health Plan. Dr. Miller is a Professor and Director of the UMMS Graduate School of Nursing Master’s program. Dr. Muchler is a Professor of Gerontology and Associate Director of Social and Demographic Research at the Gerontology Institute on the UMass Boston campus. Elizabeth Dugan, PhD, supports the Principal Investigators as the Project Director. Dr. Dugan is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

A seminar, with the Principal Investigators and the Project Director presenting, is set to take place on the UMass Boston campus, Monday, December 11th between 1pm and 2:30pm. For more information: www.geront.umb.edu.