|June 26, 2001
Honor for Young Faculty Studying Aging
Two physician-researchers at
UCSF/San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center were recently awarded grants from the
Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research Program, administered by the
American Federation for Aging Research.
Kristine Yaffe, MD, UCSF assistant professor of
psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology & biostatistics, and SFVAMC chief of geriatric
psychiatry; and Mary Whooley, MD, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology &
biostatistics, and staff physician at SFVAMC, were two of eleven national scholars who
received the $450,000 grant, which is spread over three years.
The grants are awarded to outstanding junior
physician faculty committed to academic careers in aging-related research, teaching, and
The program is sponsored by the John A. Hartford
Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, the Alliance for Aging Research on behalf of donor
friends, and the Starr Foundation.
Yaffe studies potential risk factors for
dementia, such as hormone replacement therapy and physical activity. She is also studying
how depression affects cognitive function, as well as the progression of dementia. With
her Beeson funding, she will be studying how these cognitive risk factors may vary by
Whooley is studying the effect of depression on
coronary heart disease. Her previous studies have found increased mortality from
cardiovascular diseases among patients who are depressed. Her current research is looking
more closely at this association and mechanisms that might explain it.
UCSF now has four active Beeson Scholars,
including Kenneth Covinsky, MD, MPH, UCSF assistant professor of medicine and SFVAMC staff
physician, and Dale Leitman, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and
Reproductive Sciences. In 1995, the first class of Beeson Scholars included Frank Longo,
MD, PhD, UCSF professor and vice chair of neurology, and SFVAMC neurologist.
"The Beeson Scholarship is the most
prestigious honor for young physician-investigators in geriatric medicine and aging
research. The award of so many Beeson Scholarships at UCSF is a testament to the
exceptionally talented junior faculty and the strength of the program we are
building," said Seth Landefeld, MD, chief of UCSF department of medicine's geriatrics
division, and chief of geriatrics at SFVAMC.
According to the American Federation for Aging
Research, only about 500 physicians currently have the combination of medical, academic
and scientific training to serve adequately on medical school faculties in geriatrics.
"The aging of the American population requires a substantial investment in faculty
who will devote their talents and careers to advancing knowledge of effective prevention
and management of illness and disabilities, and inspire successive generations of
physicians to do the same," says the AFAR web site.
The Beeson Scholarship is named for Paul B.
Beeson, Chairman of Medicine at Emory and Yale Medical Schools, Nuffield Professor at
Oxford University and Professor and distinguished VA Physician at the University of
Washington. He chaired the first Institute of Medicine study on "Aging and Medical
Education" in 1978. His leadership as an editor of the Cecil Textbook of Medicine has
greatly influenced medical education. He has profoundly influenced the career paths of
many young physicians, who now form the core leadership in geriatric medicine.
Source: Kevin Boyd
American Federation for Aging Research