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Stephanie A. Studenski
Neil Resnick

UPMC Media Relations

Renowned Geriatrician is Appointed at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

PITTSBURGH, August 27, 2003 Stephanie A. Studenski, M.D., one of the nations foremost authorities on mobility and function in the elderly, has joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicines division of geriatrics as professor of medicine.

Mobility problems are one of the leading causes of loss of function in the older population, and constitute one of the main reasons that individuals go to nursing facilities, said Dr. Studenski. Carefully looking at the causes of loss of mobility, and knowing how to manage them, are critical in helping elderly people retain their independence.

A researcher as well as a clinician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Pittsburgh VA, Dr. Studenski is developing practical ways for physicians to evaluate and treat elderly patients who may have difficulties with mobility or function. She has devised methods such as a speed-of-walking test for physicians to use in identifying these problems in their patients, which could predict a patients risk of hospitalization and even death.

It is important for physicians to have tools that will give them objective determinations of a patients level of mobility and risk of falling, Dr. Studenski said. The walking tests we are developing give doctors an objective rating to record for each patient, and we are following up with techniques to help doctors manage patients more accurately based on these ratings.

In addition to obvious conditions that involve difficulties with mobility, such as stroke, arthritis and hip fracture, Dr. Studenski is interested in articulating reasons for mobility problems that surface with other, less obvious, conditions like unrecognized Parkinsons disease, sensory disorders, congestive heart failure, angina, cancer and lung disease.

Mobility and function issues co-exist with a wide variety of health conditions, and a great challenge to physicians today is how to treat them in light of this co-morbidity, she said. In October, Dr. Studenski will deliver a major address on co-morbidity and physical function in the elderly at the National Institutes of Health.

We were extremely fortunate to be able to recruit Dr. Studenski, who is nationally recognized not only for her pioneering studies in the area of gait and falls but also for her mentoring and leadership abilities. She will play a major role in our efforts to enhance the lives of older adults throughout the region and beyond, said Neil Resnick, M.D., chief of the division of geriatric medicine and gerontology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging.

A native of New York state, Dr. Studenski received her nursing and medical degrees from the University of Kansas, and a masters in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her post-doctoral training includes fellowships in the division of rheumatic and genetic diseases and geriatrics at Duke University Medical Center. Before coming to the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Studenski was professor of medicine and director of the Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

She chairs the American Geriatrics Societys research committee and sits on the National Institute of Agings task force on co-morbidity research and the Claude D. Pepper External Advisory Committee at Yale University. She is associate editor of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and is on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy.

A member of several professional membership societies, Dr. Studenski is author or co-author of more than 70 papers and book reviews in peer-reviewed journals and editor of a major medical textbook on geriatric medicine.

The division of geriatric medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of the largest and is considered one of the best academic geriatric divisions in the United States. It has one of the largest groups of fellowship-trained and board-certified geriatricians nationally and has developed an extensive community- and clinic-based care network throughout the region. In 2001 the division was designated a national Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine by the John A. Hartford Foundation, placing it within a select group of centers around the United States.

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