Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Award

Heather Whitson, MD, MHS

The AGS and the AGS Health in Aging Foundation announced that Heather E. Whitson, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Ophthalmology at the Duke University School of Medicine and Deputy Director at Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, would be honored with the 2018 Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in Clinical Investigation. A past program chair for the AGS annual conference, Dr. Whitson's Yoshikawa plenary presentation at #AGS18 focuses on individualizing health and promoting resilience in medically complex older adults.

“Dr. Whitson is not only recognized nationally as a leading geriatrics researcher but also as a creative and compassionate clinician,” notes Ellen Flaherty, PhD, APRN, AGSF, AGS Board Chair. “That blend of expertise at the lab bench and in the clinic and classroom reflects everything we have come to expect from AGS members.”

Dr. Whitson’s interest in improving care delivery systems to better serve older adults with complex health needs has contributed to the leading role Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development has played in efforts to promote resilience to common “late-life stressors,” such as surgery and sensory loss. Among several noteworthy highlights from a clinical and academic career that already spans more than a decade, Dr. Whitson developed a novel rehabilitation model for people living with both vision impairment and cognitive impairment, and she is part of an interdisciplinary team seeking to improve health outcomes for frail older adults immediately before, during, and after surgery.

More broadly, Dr. Whitson has focused her research career on improving care and health outcomes for older individuals living with multiple chronic conditions. Her unique interest in links between eye health and brain function, for example, are tracing important associations between Alzheimer’s disease and changes in the eye, which could advance early detection for certain types of dementia.

An AGS member since 2005, Dr. Whitson received her medical degree from Cornell University in 2000 and began her work at Duke as a medical resident shortly thereafter. In addition to chairing the 2017 AGS Annual Scientific Meeting Program Committee and co-chairing a series of “bedside-to-bench” AGS research conferences sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Dr. Whitson has authored or co-authored more than 60 research publications, many on the breadth of her own work supported by the NIA and other influential funders..

Announced at the 2016 AGS Annual Scientific Meeting and supported for 16 years thanks to generous contributions to the AGS Health in Aging Foundation, the Yoshikawa Award recognizes the research accomplishments of mid-career clinician-investigators directly involved in the care of older adults. It is one of several honors conferred by the AGS at its Annual Scientific Meeting.

Past Recipients of the Thomas and Catherine Yoshikawa Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award:

2017   Sei Lee, MD, MAS
2016   Mara Schonberg, MD, MPH
2015   Rebecca Sudore, MD
2014   XinQi Dong, MD, MPH
2013   Cynthia J. Brown, MD, MSPH
2012   Malaz A. Boustani, MD, MPH
2011   Catherine A. Sarkisian, MD, MSPH   
2010   Cynthia M. Boyd, MD, MPH
2009   Louise C. Walter, MD
2008   R. Sean Morrison, MD
2007   Eric A. Coleman, MD, MPH
2006   David J. Cassaret, MD, MS
2005   Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS
2004   Terri R. Fried, MD
2003   Edward Marcantonio, MD, Boston, MA
2002   James T. Pacala, MD, Minneapolis, MN
2001   Thomas M. Gill, MD, New Haven, CT
2001   Greg A. Sachs, MD, Chicago, IL
2000   Elizabeth Capezuti, PhD, RN
1999   Mark A. Supiano, MD
1998   Sharon K. Inouye, MD 
1992   Mary Tinetti, MD
1991   Larry Rubenstein, MD, MPH