Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults

Lauren Ferrante, MD, MHS

The AGS and AGS Health in Aging Foundation have conferred one of their newest honors on Lauren Ferrante, MD, MHS, a pulmonary and critical care physician with a unique commitment to researching better care for older adults. An Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., Dr. Ferrante will receive the inaugural Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults at the AGS 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting (#AGS19; May 2-4 in Portland, Ore.). Dr. Ferrante’s research presentation, “Predictors of Functional Decline among Older Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Survivors,” identifies promising markers of poor functional recovery, which could help target older adults for interventions to improve function after ICU care.

“Arti Hurria, the namesake for this award, built a bridge between other specialties and geriatrics,” notes Laurie G. Jacobs, MD, AGSF, AGS President. “Dr. Ferrante exemplifies what that connection can accomplish. Her research on function before and after being admitted to an ICU has helped us identify novel factors that can aid recovery, prevent disability, and perhaps even reduce deaths following serious hospitalization.”

For Dr. Ferrante, the passion for finding solutions stems from a career built at the crossroads of geriatrics (the health specialty dedicated to caring for older adults) and critical care medicine, which addresses health concerns at the “extreme” of human disease, when patients are admitted to an ICU with life-threatening illness.

As more people benefit from increased longevity, those extremes—and care to address them—are becoming more common. In 2015, for example, older adults accounted for one in four admissions to the ICU, an experience that can complicate the ability to recover function and maintain health, safety, and independence. In Dr. Ferrante’s research on display at #AGS19, she worked with colleagues at the Yale School of Medicine to evaluate what factors might help predict functional decline among older people discharged from the ICU. Looking at data on Medicare beneficiaries in the National Health and Aging Trends Study, Dr. Ferrante and her team observed that eight factors—advanced age, exhaustion, a low level of activity, slowness, probable/possible dementia, and vision impairment—all were associated with a greater risk for persistent functional decline after an ICU stay. Her team hopes these predictors can lead to better tools for identifying particularly vulnerable patients at the time of discharge and assisting in their recovery.

Board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, and critical care medicine, Dr. Ferrante was able to launch her research program at the intersection of geriatrics and critical care medicine with a Grants for Early Medical/Surgical Subspecialists’ Transition to Aging Research (GEMSSTAR) award in 2015. That support—coupled with other age-focused honors, including a Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging, a Pepper Center Career Development Award, and a T. Franklin Williams Award—allowed Dr. Ferrante’s research on functional outcomes after a critical illness to flourish, and get the recognition it deserves.

Arti Hurria, MD—namesake of the Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults—championed AGS programs connecting colleagues outside geriatrics to the rewards of supporting health, safety, and independence for us all as we age. Dr. Hurria, who passed away in 2018, believed in the need to infuse geriatrics principles across all specialties. The Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in the Subspecialties of Internal Medicine that are Focused on the Care of Older Adults is one of several honors conferred by the AGS at its Annual Scientific Meeting. The award recognizes the accomplishments of junior and mid-career clinician-investigators in general internal medicine and its specialties. Chosen from hundreds of research presentations submitted to the AGS, the Hurria awardee presents their ground-breaking research on the geriatrics aspects of their specialty at the AGS Annual Scientific Meeting.