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Stephanie A. Studenski, MD, MPH, is one of the nation’s foremost authorities and researchers of mobility, balance disorders and falls in older adults.
The Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at the University of Pittsburgh was established in 2005 when Dr. Studenski and a vast team of more than 50 outstanding researchers across five schools of the university received a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), of which Dr. Studenski is the principal investigator, to study causes, consequences and effective interventions surrounding balance disorders in older adults. The Pittsburgh Pepper Center is one of nine Pepper Centers in the country, each with its own specific focus, and each sponsored by the NIA to promote independence for older adults. Under Dr. Studenski’s leadership, the creation of the Pittsburgh Pepper Center represents the first time that such a comprehensive research team has worked together at such a high level to understand the causes and consequences of balance disorders in older adults and study the development of innovative strategies to address this common disabling condition that affects one-third of older adults.
Dr. Studenski also is the director of clinical research for the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging and a professor at the university’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and School of Nursing. She is a staff physician at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Health System Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center and Center for Health Equity Research and Practice.
She has dedicated her career to researching and developing practical methods for health professionals to evaluate and treat older patients who may have difficulties with mobility and balance. Through her research, she strives to understand balance and mobility problems that occur with obvious conditions such as stroke, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and hip fractures as well as those that surface with other, less obvious conditions like peripheral neuropathy (numb feet), loss of peripheral vision or slowed reaction speed.
Dr. Studenski chairs the American Geriatrics Society’s research committee and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Review Group on Aging Systems and Geriatrics. She also serves on the NIA’s task force on co-morbidity research. She currently is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences and the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy and is past associate editor for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
A member of several other national scientific organizations and University of Pittsburgh internal committees who has earned numerous honors, Dr. Studenski is author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed and invited papers. She has a strong interest in supporting the development of young investigators in aging research. She is principal investigator of an NIH training grant in clinical aging research at the University of Pittsburgh and principal investigator of an NIH Leadership Award that has led to the development of a Concentration in Aging and Chronic Disease within the Pittsburgh Clinical Research Training Program.
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, where she had later become an assistant professor of medicine. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Studenski was a professor of medicine and nursing and director of the Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical Center. More information is available at https://www.dept-med.pitt.edu/geri/.