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Publications, promotions, awards, research, presentations, and more – enjoy this recent roundup of Division of Geriatric Medicine Faculty News!

Carolina Care Awards

UNC Geriatrics: Carolina Care Excellence AwardOur UNC Geriatrics clinic received the 2020 Carolina Care Excellence award for patient care. UNC Geriatrics is the only primary care clinic to be recognized with this award, which is based on Press Ganey patient surveys. Under the medical directorship of the Division of Geriatric Medicine’s Steve Kizer, MD, UNC Geriatrics clinic has been a Carolina Care Excellence Award recipient for the past 5 years.  Congratulations to all! See our Carolina Care video to learn how UNC Geriatrics provides consistently excellent care – “Carolina Care” – to older adults, year after year.

As well, under the medical directorship of the Division of Geriatric Medicine’s Margaret Drickamer, MD, SECU Jim and Betsy Bryan Hospice Home won a Carolina Care “Behavioral Award” for Outpatient Care. Congratulations, UNC Hospice team!

MSTAR: Medical Students Training in Aging Research

2018 MSTAR Student Ritika Gudhe presented her delirium research poster at AGS 2019.
2018 MSTAR Student Ritika Gudhe

UNC Center for Aging and Health will be funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to continue as a National Training Center for the MSTAR program: Medical Students Training in Aging Research. Through a $526,825 T-35 grant (“UNC-CH Summer Research Training in Aging for Medical Students – MSTAR” / T35-AG038047) UNC’s MSTAR program has trained 111 medical students in aging research since 2010. This year’s award represents the third round of funding for UNC’s MSTAR program.

Medical students from across the U.S. and territories apply to participate in an 8- to 10-week program for structured research in basic, translational, clinical, or health services research. MSTAR scholars have come to Chapel Hill in past years from as far away as Hawaii, California, and Puerto Rico. This year’s 2020 summer research program was conducted remotely due to the coronavirus.

Because older adults are often excluded from research, MSTAR is an important pipeline training program for medical students to learn to conduct research that includes older adults and to evaluate medical research with a lens on aging inclusivity.

Division of Geriatric Medicine Chief Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, is the Principal Investigator and Program Director, with Philip Sloane, MD, MPH, Program on Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care, Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, and Richard Loeser, MD, Director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, as Co-Program Directors. Ellen Roberts, MD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, is Associate Program Director.

Brain Health & BOLD NC

Center for Aging and Health is BOLD NC partnerThe Center for Aging and Health is a sub-recipient of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for North Carolinians” (BOLD NC) funding, partnering with the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services (grant PI) and NC Division of Public Health to bring a public health, coordinated, systematic approach to our state’s brain health efforts. In partnership with BOLD NC Steering Committee members, the Center for Aging and Health’s role will include serving on the BOLD NC grant Steering Committee, creating an environmental scan and plan for educating health care and other professionals on brain health, and developing a brain health CEU for clinicians. The Center for Aging and Health’s Ellen Schneider, MBA, will lead UNC-Chapel Hill’s BOLD NC team.

New Faculty

We’re delighted to announce several new Faculty in the Division of Geriatric Medicine.

John A. Batsis, MD, Associate Professor, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gilling School of Public Health, joins us from Dartmouth Medical School where he was a staff physician at the  at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and ran an active research program focused on older adults, technology, and functional capacity.

Rosanne Tiller, MD, joins our Faculty after completing residency and a Geriatric Medicine Fellowship at UNC. Tiller was Chief Inpatient Resident in 2017-2018.Rosanne Tiller, MD, Division of Geriatric Medicine

Junève Toche, MD, joins our Faculty after completing residency and a Geriatric Medicine Fellowship at UNC. Toche was Chief Outpatient Resident in 2018-2019.Junève Toche, MD

We could not be more fortunate to have these outstanding Geriatrician-Clinician-Educator-Researchers on board!

ADRD Palliative Care Trial

Laura Hanson, MD, MPH, Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Medical Director of Palliative Care, has been awarded $4.1 million in funding to administer a new multicenter trial from the National Institute on Aging (NIA). This award funds the first major clinical trial of comprehensive dementia-specific palliative care.

Laura Hanson, MD, MPH
Laura Hanson, MD, MPH

The ADRD Palliative Care (ADRD-PC) trial will enroll hospitalized patients with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their family caregivers, and follow them after discharge to improve supportive care in the community. Trial sites include the University of North Carolina, University of Colorado, Indiana University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Millions of Americans have late-stage Alzheimer’s and related dementias, causing suffering due to loss of awareness of self and family, progressive dependency, physical and neuropsychiatric symptoms, and physical, emotional and financial strain for caregivers,” said Hanson. “While specialty palliative care has been proven to improve outcomes for other serious illnesses, it is rarely offered to patients with dementia and their families.”

Awards and Accolades

Lindsay Wilson, MD, MPHLindsay Wilson, MD, MPH, received a “Foundation Phase Teaching Excellence Award” for significantly influencing courses in the Foundation Phase. Wilson is the John W. Foust Medical Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor, and was recently promoted to associate professor in the division of geriatric medicine.

“During these challenging times, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to work with our fantastic medical students,” said Wilson. “Teaching the next generation of physicians, particularly in how to best care for our older patients, brings me tremendous joy. I love watching my learners grow and develop into doctors – their dedication, passion, and determination inspire me.”

Cristine Henage, MPS, EdD, was recently promoted to Assistant Director of the UNC Center for Aging and Health’s Carolina Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (CGWEP). Dr. Henage has led the CGWEP since 2011 and guided the program through two rounds of Health Resources Services Administration funding to ensure that geriatrics is embedded throughout North Carolina’s health care workforce.

“I’m remarkably proud of how we have been able to grow the continuing education arm of the program from less than 1,000 trainees in geriatrics to over 8,400 this past year,” said Henage. “We are very excited about starting Project ECHO telementoring sessions to reach rural and underserved providers with geriatrics knowledge and problem solve together.”

Faculty Publications

The Division of Geriatric Medicine’s Claire Larson, MD, Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, and co-authors’ recent JAPha publication proposes a new model of collaborative pharmacist-based care to reduce falls risk in older adults related to opioids and benzodiazepines.

Ben Blomberg, MDIn a recent publication, “Enhancing Advance Care Planning Communication: An Interactive Workshop with Role-Play for Students and Primary Care Clinicians,” the Division of Geriatric Medicine’s Ben Blomberg, MD, and coauthors make the tough topic of advance care planning accessible for trainees and providers through role-playing and interactive workshops.

Sharing Our Expertise

Kudos to Gregg Warshaw, MD, and Meredith Gilliam, MD, MPH, from the Division of Geriatric Medicine for leading continuing medical education talks throughout the summer and fall of 2020 for MAHEC’s Project ECHO on cognitive impairment and osteoporosis.

On September 24 the Division of Geriatric Medicine’s Joshua Niznik, PharmD, PhD, led a webinar on deprescribing in older adults using administrative healthcare data as part of the Joshua Niznik, PharmD, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatric MedicineDivision of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh’s Health Services Research Seminar series.

Rosanne Tiller, MD, will speak on “The Geriatric Syndrome of Frailty” at Moses Cone Grand Rounds on October 9.