As advances in understanding disease processes at the biological and systems levels are paralleled by identifying new clinical syndromes and creating novel models of healthcare delivery, the field of Geriatrics is flourishing. However, the optimism surrounding this progress has been tempered by the lag in its translation to improving the health of our nation’s older population.
The geriatrician of today requires a multidisciplinary training and outlook to deliver the best possible care to older patients. As a physician researcher, I recently took on the role of Chief of the newly combined Divisions of Geriatrics within the Department of Medicine and Cognitive and Motor Aging within the Department of Neurology. My goal is to forge a unique integration of research and clinical practice geared towards building a better quality of life for older people building on the stellar clinical and educational activities provided by the Division of Geriatrics. Our work in the Division of Cognitive and Motor Aging over the past decade has set the precedent for true interdisciplinary collaborations, where clinical work from a team of neurologists, geriatricians, neuropsychologists, physiatrists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians and bioengineers synergistically informs research, and investigations are defined by the cross-pollination of diverse scientific knowledge.
Treating the diseases of aging requires the ability to connect different perspectives and see the big picture. Multidisciplinary, integrative medicine is the wave of the future, particularly in geriatrics. As our world's population ages, the increasing prevalence and incidence of neurogeriatric syndromes such as dementia and depression, and their health consequences in older patients such as frailty, disability, and falls have a major impact at both individual and societal level. The academic, research and clinical links forged by this integration of divisions across disciplines provide new and innovative ways to break down traditional siloes in medical education, research, and clinical care.
Through our unique geriatrics-neurology connections, clinical and research opportunities now exist where they didn't before. We are creating unprecedented educational opportunities for the medical students, residents, and fellows involved in our training programs. Creation of Alzheimer and neurodegenerative disease clinics and co-managed models of care in hospital and nursing home settings within our divisions will lead to improvements in quality of life for our patients in the New York city region and beyond. As our teams of physician-scientists, clinicians, health professionals and trainees work together and inform each other's investigations, we will advance the understanding of the risk factors that lead to major geriatric syndromes such as delirium, depression, and dementia, and elucidate the effects of diseases and aging on cognition and mobility.
Exciting opportunities exist beyond our walls. The Institute of Medicine stated, "The failure to engage in the fight to anticipate, prevent, and ameliorate global health problems would diminish America's stature in the realm of health and jeopardize our own health, economy, and national security." In a NIH-funded study that I am co-leading in India, we are studying how diet, physical activity, and social interactions may influence the risk of dementia via vascular mechanisms. Our work with this population has great potential to translate findings for the benefit of patients in the United States, especially those living in immigrant-intensive areas like New York City.
I am delighted to welcome you to our integrated divisions and invite you to learn more about our vision, faculty interests and activities, clinical outreach programs, education and training opportunities, and ongoing research in these web pages. Please join us in this much-needed multidisciplinary effort to improve health and well-being of our older patients.
Joe Verghese, M.B.B.S., M.S.
Chief of the Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine
Professor, The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology
Murray D. Gross Memorial Faculty Scholar in Gerontology
Director, Division of Cognitive & Motor Aging, The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology