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Leading Sociologist and Aging Expert to Join Hopkins Nursing Faculty


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Posted: 11/29/2010

Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, an applied sociologist with expertise in caring for older adults, will become a faculty member in the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) Department of Health Systems and Outcomes in February 2011.

With joint appointments at the School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Division of Geriatric Medicine & Gerontology, she will lead the development of a JHUSON-based interdivisional center for innovation to promote healthy aging.

In her announcement of Gitlin’s appointment, JHUSON Dean Martha N. Hill, PhD, RN, noted that the number of Americans age 55 and older will nearly double by the year 2030.  “Providing excellent care for older patients is a challenge for nursing now. As the numbers of older people with multiple chronic diseases and the involvement of their families as care givers increases, Dr. Gitlin’s addition to the faculty will help Johns Hopkins nurses, physicians, and other health care team members prepare to meet the challenge.”

“Dr. Gitlin will make a great collaborator for this new center,” says S. Chris Durso, MD, interim director of the JHU Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.  “She brings a strong focus on translating programs that improve older adults’ lives in the community, bringing both research skills and experience testing programs in patients’ homes and community centers.”

Constantine Lyketsos, MD, MHS, Director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center and the Elizabeth Plank Althouse Professor and Chair of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Department of Psychiatry, adds, “Dr. Gitlin will nicely complement our work in dementia treatment development and implementation. We look forward to embracing her into our team and our ongoing efforts to ensure that effective treatments are made widely available to people living with dementia at home, in assisted living, or nursing homes.”

Formerly a Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Thomas Jefferson University, an academic health science center in Philadelphia, PA, Gitlin is nationally and internationally recognized in the areas of physical function and older adults, family caregiving and nonpharmacologic approaches to supporting individuals with dementia.  She is also founding Director of the Jefferson Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health (CARAH), which works to advance the quality of life of older adults through research, training of health professionals and students in evidence-based programs, and delivery and evaluation of innovative evidence-based programs.  She also co-founded Jefferson Elder Care to train health professionals in the delivery of the interventions developed and tested at CARAH.

Gitlin has over 150 scientific publications and has co-authored books on research methods, grant writing, occupational therapy intervention for family caregivers, and physical function and its measurement in older adults.  Her funded programs of research include devel­oping and testing innovative approaches to helping functionally vulnerable older adults remain at home, developing and testing innovative approaches to addressing health disparities and reducing depression among older African Americans, and translating evidence-based interventions into practice settings.