Research in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology

Research into the aging process is our most powerful tool for promoting longevity (life span) and enhancing quality of life (health span) for older adults. 

Alison A. Moore, MD, MPH, Division Chief, brings to UC San Diego over 20 years of research experience focused on the epidemiology and health-related effects of alcohol and other substances among diverse populations; and developing and testing screening and brief interventions to reduce unhealthy alcohol use among older adults and other diverse populations. Her new research will test a behavioral intervention (Motivational Enhancement Therapy) and case management to reduce heavy drinking among socially disadvantaged Latinos.  The intervention is delivered by community health workers and the study is done in partnership with a community-based health care organization.  Other ongoing research is testing an intervention combining cognitive behavioral therapy, tai chi and motivational text messaging to reduce pain and substance use in older adults with HIV.  She also has a mid-career K24 career development award from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to mentor junior investigators on diverse topics related to aging and substance use. Click here to view her publications. 

Anthony Molina, PhD, is Vice Chief of Research for the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology and an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine. He joined UC San Diego in 2018 from Wake Forest School of Medicine. He has a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a gerontologist and translational researcher with his main research focus being on the role of mitochondrial bioenergetics in aging and age-related diseases/conditions. Dr. Molina has established a strong track record as a team-oriented, collaborative, translational researcher, both as a Principal Investigator of several NIA-funded multi-disciplinary projects and as a key co-investigator studying the role of mitochondrial bioenergetics in a variety of age-related conditions. Click here to find out more about his work. 

Christopher N. Kaufmann, PhD, MHS, is Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology within the Department of Medicine. He is a public mental health researcher with research interests at the intersection of aging, sleep, and health services research. His research focuses on two main topics: a) examining the role of sleep quality on aging trajectories (in the physical, cognitive, and mental health domains), and b) characterizing trends in use and delivery of treatments for sleep disorders and determining how these trends may modify future aging trajectories. Prior to his current role, he received his PhD from the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and later completed a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the T32 Research Fellowship in Geriatric Mental Health at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging here at UCSD. Dr. Kaufmann received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California where he majored in communication.

Maile Karris, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in addition to the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health.  She is a clinical translational researcher who is trained and published in the impact of antiretroviral therapy regimens on HIV associated T lymphocyte immunology and the association of HIV associated inflammation on clinical outcomes. Her interest in inflammation and its impact of clinical outcomes and her steadily aging clinical practice of people living with HIV has lead her to research questions focused on older adults living with HIV (OALWH). Current projects include characterization of the syndemics of aging with HIV, exploring the impact of polypharmacy in OALWH on geriatric conditions, and evaluation of HIV provider opinions on caring for OALWH. She is also collaborating with Dr. Robert Owens on a proposal to characterize the endotypes and phenotypes of obstructive sleep apnea in people living with HIV, and Dr. Peter Mazonson to develop an online support for OALWH community (Aging with Dignity, Health, Optimism and Community or ADHOC). 


In addition, the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology is fortunate to have multiple collaborations with researchers at UC San Diego conducting aging-related studies and projects. Some of our collaborators include: 

Deborah M. Kado, MD, MS, Professor, Departments of Medicine and Family Medicine and Public Health: Dr. Kado's primary research focus has been on osteoporosis and she is internationally recognized for her work in characterizing hyperkyphosis as a new geriatric syndrome. She has been a successfully funded National Institutes of Health investigator since 2000, is Director of the UC San Diego Osteoporosis Clinic and Deputy Director of Clinical Research and Education for UC San Diego's Stein Institute for Research on Aging. She has served as an expert panel member for the FDA in the development of bone therapeutics, for the International Society of Clinical Densitometry in providing imaging guidelines for bone mineral density testing, and for the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research in developing consensus recommendations on the treatment of vertebral fractures. 

Laurel Riek, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering: Dr. Riek joined UC San Diego in 2016, coming from the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests are in the areas of robotics, human-robot interaction, and healthcare engineering. She has worked to solve problems in health care, including emergency medicine and intensive care. In conjunction with the Division of Geriatrics, she is exploring the potential use of contextual robotics in helping older adults to live well and age in place.

The Center for Healthy Aging and Stein Institute for Research on Aging (Dilip V. Jeste, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Healthy Aging & Senior Care): The Center for Healthy Aging demonstrates the commitment that UC San Diego has made to the area of healthy aging. An important goal of the Center is to bring together groups at UC San Diego that are conducting clinical care or research in the area of healthy aging. Dr. Jeste is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist and one of the world's leading experts in the field of aging. For over 10 years, Dr. Jeste has also been director of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging, an Organized Research Unit with 135 faculty members from different departments within the UCSD School of Medicine. At the Stein Institute, Dr. Jeste and colleagues' work has focused on successful cognitive, physical, and emotional aging at the clinical, translational, and basic science levels. 

The Gary and Mary West UC San Diego Senior Emergency Care (Ted Chan, MD, Chair, and Vaishal Tolia, MD, MPH, FACEP, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine): As a result of $11.8 million in funding provided by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, UC San Diego created The Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit to provide state-of-the-art emergency care to older adults and enable a multi-year medical research initiative in partnership with the West Health Institute.

UC San Diego Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC)  (James Brewer, MD, PhD, Director): The ADRC is one of the original five of the now 29 Alzheimer's Disease Centers supported by the National Institute on Aging. Established in 1984, the goal of the ADRC is to translate research advances into improved diagnosis and care for persons with Alzheimer's disease while, at the same time, focusing on finding ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately eradicate the disease. They annually follow approximately 350 seniors with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, and 100 age-matched participants with no memory problems. Along with conducting research studies, the ADRC also serves as a local and national resource and provides community outreach, education and support groups. 

Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS)  (Howard Feldman, MD, FRCP), affiliated with the ADRC, is a major initiative in the federal government for carrying out clinical studies to address treatments for both cognitive and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  It was formed in 1991 as a cooperative agreement between the National Institute on Aging and the UC San Diego and was developed in response to a perceived need to advance research in the development of drugs that might be useful for treating patients with AD. The ADCS focuses on evaluating compounds that will benefit AD patients, including testing of agents that lack patent protection, have already been marketed for other indications, or are novel compounds.