UNC physicians receive grant to train specialists in geriatric care

This grant will expand geriatrics training to five medical specialties and subspecialties training faculty, residents and fellows through the Alliance for Geriatric Education in Specialties (AGES).

Media contact: Tom Hughes, 919-966-6047, tahughes@unch.unc.edu

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The UNC Center for Aging and Health/Division of Geriatric Medicine has received a second four-year $1.5 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to develop a program entitled “Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics.”  This grant will expand geriatrics training to five medical specialties and subspecialties training faculty, residents and fellows through the Alliance for Geriatric Education in Specialties (AGES).

The UNC Center received its first Reynolds grant in 2003 to train students, residents, and community physicians in geriatric care.

 “As our population ages, 40-50 percent of specialists’ patients will be older,” explains Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, professor of medicine, director of the UNC Center for Aging and Health and principal investigator. “These patients have complex needs due to the number of chronic conditions they have and the number of medicines they take.

“This grant will allow us to train specialists in emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, hematology and oncology, trauma and critical care surgery, and the hospital medicine service in critical issues of geriatric care and geriatric syndromes such as dementia, physiology of aging, and geriatric assessments.  They, in turn, will provide training to their peers, residents and fellows.“

UNC is one of 10 institutions nationwide to receive a grant.

“Just as the pediatrics specialty addresses the issues specific to children, so does the geriatrics specialty address the special issues facing older patients,” Busby-Whitehead said.

Co-principal investigators are Ellen Roberts, PhD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, Center for Aging and Health; Hyman Muss, MD, professor of medicine and director, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center geriatric oncology program; and Phillip Boysen, MD, UNC School of Medicine executive associate dean of graduate medical education and professor of anesthesiology.

Other UNC faculty leaders on the grant are Kevin Biese, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and residency program director; Elizabeth Dreesen, MD, assistant professor of surgery and associate chief of trauma surgery; Cherri Hobgood, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine; Michael Lee, MD, MHA, professor and chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation; Allen Lyles, MD, associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, section chief for inpatient education and practice, and associate director of the internal medicine residency program; Anthony Meyer, MD, PhD, professor and chair of surgery; Paul Ossman, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine; Donald Rosenstein, MD, professor of psychiatry and leader of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program; Renae Stafford, MD, MPH, assistant professor of surgery and director of surgical critical care; and Paul Thananopavarn, MD, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it is one of the 50 largest private foundations in the United States.

The Aging and Quality of Life program was conceived by the Foundation in response to a growing consensus that physicians lack adequate training to meet the increasing needs of the frail elderly patient. Such patients typically suffer from multiple, interactive physical and psychosocial conditions – both acute and chronic – that compromise their capacity to function in daily life and lessen their independence.

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