Research in the Division of Geriatrics

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 Alcholism to mentor junior investigators on diverse topics related to aging and substance use. Click here to view her publications. 


In addition, the Division of Geriatrics 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. 

Jacqueline Kerr, PhD, Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health: Dr. Kerr's research largely focuses on physical activity, sedentary behavior and the impact of environments. She serves as the Program Leader for the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Prevention Research Program and is a researcher in the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at the Qualcomm Institute, Calit2. Dr. Kerr has developed interventions within retirement communities and senior centers to encourage physical activity. She has worked to develop novel methods to objectively assess physical activity and sedentary behavior in time and space using mobile sensors in order to better evaluate interventions that change how and where older adults are active. She has pioneered the use of SenseCams, GPS devices and machine learning methods to improve location and activity classification. Additional initiatives include helping clinicians to monitor changes in sleep, gait and lifespace for potential precursors of frailty and falls in older adults and cancer patients. 

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 is creating 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 dsease 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. The

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.