UCSF's Yaffe to co-lead initiative to improve care for older adults

Staff reports

Senior couple holding hands

According to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau, adults ages 65 and older are expected to make up a larger portion of the national population than children by 2034.

A new program led in part by UC San Francisco researcher Kristine Yaffe, MD, has been launched to help further scientific knowledge on aging and the care of older adults, and to train and encourage clinicians in a multitude of medical specialties to focus their practice and research on the age-related aspects of their disciplines.

Clinician-Scientists Transdisciplinary Aging Research (Clin-STAR) is a collaborative effort between UCSF, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). The program is supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) with a grant expected to total nearly $4.5 million over the next five years.

Educating the next generation of clinician-scientists in aging research

“In the next fifty years, we’re expecting extraordinary growth in the number of older adults in the United States, but there is a massive gap in health care and aging research,” explains Yaffe, the Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair and professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at UCSF, as well as the Department of Psychiatry's vice chair for the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “The cross-disciplinary Clin-STAR program is the first of its kind to train clinician-scientists and address this critical shortage.”

To meet that growing need, Clin-STAR will develop a multi-faceted, national platform to promote and enrich the career development, training, and transdisciplinary research of clinician-investigators across the U.S., particularly early stage investigators who are committed to careers in aging research.

Yaffe, who is also the chief of neuropsychiatry and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco VA Health Care System, is one of four principal investigators on the project. She is joined by Thomas Gill, MD, from the Yale University School of Medicine, Jeremy Walston, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, and AFAR’s Odette van der Willik.

Clin-STAR hopes to build on the collective and complementary experience of its four principal investigators, senior administrative leadership at AFAR, and a team that includes more than 20 clinician investigators from a diverse array of academic institutions across the country to:

  • Develop an organizational and management infrastructure that will facilitate the exchange and dissemination of scientific and research knowledge on aging and the care of older persons.
  • Provide mentoring and career development support for emerging investigators committed to pursuing aging research in their clinical specialty or discipline.
  • Stimulate aging research, foster networking and collaborations across disciplines, and identify and support high priority and understudied areas of aging research.
  • Develop and implement strategies for assessing the effectiveness of the Clin-STAR program and to use this information to guide future directions and report outcomes to stakeholders.

“Substantial investments by the NIA and private partners in training, career development, and research over the years have led to a growing number of clinician-scientists in aging research from a diverse array of specialties and disciplines,” says Basil Eldadah, MD, PhD, chief of NIA’s Geriatrics Branch, Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology. “Clin-STAR will leverage this foundation by nurturing an even broader pipeline of investigators dedicated to the health and well-being of older adults.”

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry, UCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care, and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry conducts its clinical, educational and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including UCSF campuses at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay and Laurel Heights, UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System, and UCSF Fresno.

About the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments—Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurological Surgery—that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research, as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, as well as the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise.

It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians, and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the San Francisco VA Medical Center.