ONE OF THE FIRST CHALLENGES WE TACKLED after I began my role as Dean of the School of Public Health, nearly two years ago, was the creation of a new strategic plan. This required over a year of collaboration and more than 50 in-depth conversations with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community partners. Through those listening sessions, one of the themes that emerged as an area of particular strength in the School—and of increasing need at the local and national level—is the health needs of older adults.
Thanks to both advances in medicine that prolong our lives, and to the aging of the baby boomer generation, the United States is on the cusp of an “aging avalanche.” To address this challenge, the School of Public Health has made improving the health and well-being of older adults a key part of our strategic plan, Advancing Well-Being for All. Over the next five years, the School will prioritize investments in education, research, and service activities related to improving the quality of life for this vulnerable and growing population group.
The School is well positioned to meet this challenge, with over 30 years of experience conducting research and mentorship on aging led by the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research. Many of the Center for Gerontology’s past achievements, made possible in large part by the leadership of outgoing center director Dr. Richard Besdine, are described in this issue. From reductions in feeding tube use for elderly Alzheimer’s patients, to increases in home delivered meals for seniors, the School’s faculty dig, and push, and advance our understanding in order to improve lives. Most recently, Professor Vince Mor was awarded the largest federal grant in the history of Brown University to lead a national research incubator aimed at improving the health care and quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as their caregivers. I am proud that the School is a leader in this area and I look forward to the Center for Gerontology’s future directions under the leadership of Professor Theresa Shireman.
I hope that this issue of Continuum, which includes details about our strategic plan, Advancing Well-Being for All, as well as exciting news about our faculty, students, and alumni, inspires you to continue supporting the School as it moves into the future.
Bess H. Marcus, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Public Health