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Neil M. Resnick, M.D.
Charles F. Reynolds III, M.D.

Stephanie A. Studenski, M.D.

University Of Pittsburgh Earns Newly Created Hartford Center Of Excellence In Geriatric Psychiatry

Pitt’s Current Geriatric Medicine Hartford Grant Renewed, Making Pitt Only Academic Institution With Two Hartford Centers

PITTSBURGH, March 3, 2005 — The department of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been chosen to receive a newly created Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation, one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of geriatric research.

The center in geriatric psychiatry is the second Hartford Foundation Center of Excellence designated at the University of Pittsburgh – in 2001, the university received an initial Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine, recently renewed – making Pitt the only academic medical center in the nation to have two Hartford Foundation centers of excellence.

The Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry was established to address a critical need: without an immediate and sustained flow of new geriatric psychiatrists into the health care system, mentally ill elderly patients will outnumber geriatric psychiatrists by an incredible 6,000 to 1 ratio in just 25 years.

“The University of Pittsburgh’s enormous capacity to train physician faculty in geriatric psychiatry makes it an outstanding partner in developing the careers of researchers who will develop new knowledge and teachers who will communicate that knowledge to future physicians and other health care professionals. We believe that Pittsburgh can nurture the careers of geriatric psychiatrists who will make an important difference in the care of older adults across the country,” said Christopher A. Langston, Ph.D., senior program officer of the John A. Hartford Foundation.

“Our university’s depth of expertise in geriatric medicine and geriatric psychiatry has put us in a unique position of receiving two Hartford Center of Excellence grants,” said Neil M. Resnick, M.D., professor of medicine, chief of the division of geriatric medicine at Pitt’s School of Medicine and director of Pitt’s Institute on Aging (UPIA). “Having two Hartford Centers is recognition that the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is one of the top training centers for physicians who treat elderly patients. We are appreciative of the Hartford’s great support of our mission.”

Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry

The Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry, directed by Charles F. Reynolds III, M.D., professor of psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will increase Pitt’s role in training both new researchers in the field and more experts to educate primary care physicians.

“The importance of training physician educators can not be overstated,” said Dr. Reynolds, who also is a member of the UPIA’s Council on Aging. “Now and in the future, a primary care doctor will be the first point of entry for elderly who seek treatment for mental illness. It is critical that these doctors receive specialized training in identifying and treating mental illness in this population.”

The center will enable Pitt’s department of psychiatry to augment a training program that already has produced nearly 20 percent of the academic geriatric psychiatrists now working in the United States. Through the Hartford Center of Excellence, the university’s department of psychiatry and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic will train future geriatric psychiatrists to specialize in one of two areas: research or physician education.

The addition of the geriatric psychiatry Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh, along with a similar center at the University of California-San Diego, will add to the Hartford Foundation’s 22-site Centers of Excellence program in geriatrics, but differs significantly from the others because it is the first time the foundation has funded centers outside of internal and family geriatric medicine.

Jules Rosen, M.D., professor of psychiatry and chief, long-term care services, will oversee the center’s physician educator track; and Benoit Mulsant, M.D., professor of psychiatry, will oversee the research track. Each year two Hartford Scholars will be named.

The Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry will be funded for an initial period of three years for a total amount of $450,000.

Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine

The renewed Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine, directed by Dr. Resnick, will continue to focus on new and effective ways of training and educating the enormous number of physicians who will be needed to provide care for older adults because the traditional ways have proven to be ineffective, according to Dr. Resnick.

The initial grant was a three-year, $525,000 award. The center’s funding has been renewed for $300,000 over the next three years.

Major accomplishments of the initial grant at Pitt have included: Support of three research fellowships for physicians who have published their Hartford-supported studies; recruitment and training of 15 medical students in geriatrics, each of whom have completed a research project which was accepted for presentation at the American Geriatrics Society meeting, and one of whom will receive a national award this May; and the development of a new geriatric residency track for internal medicine residents – the first such program in the country, which already has been completed by two residents who are now practicing physicians. Another accomplishment has been the recruitment of several nationally known geriatrics clinicians, including Stephanie A. Studenski, M.D., the Center’s associate director, who initiated the medical student training program; Joseph T. Hanlon, Pharm.D., an expert in pharmacotherapy in older adults; and Werner Schaefer, Ph.D., an expert in continence research.

The Hartford Foundation

Founded in 1929, the John A. Hartford Foundation is a committed champion of training, research and service system innovations that promote the health and independence of America’s older adults. Through its grant-making, the foundation seeks to strengthen the nation’s capacity to provide effective, affordable care to the increasingly older population by educating “aging-prepared” health professionals and developing innovations that improve and better integratehealth and supportive services. The foundation was established by John A. Hartford. Mr. Hartford and his brother, George L. Hartford, both former chief executives of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, left the bulk of their estates to the foundation upon their deaths in the 1950s. Additional information is available at www.jhartfound.org.

The University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging strives to improve the health of older adults by linking and enhancing research, education and clinical programs offered by the university, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and other government and publicly funded institutions. More information is available at www.aging.upmc.com.

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