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Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine

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Post-Doctoral Training Program in Behavioral Geriatrics (T32)

Program Overview. This 2-year Postdoctoral Training Program in Behavioral Geriatrics develops independent investigators capable of conducting patient-oriented research to improve the quality of life and quality of care of older adults. The Program is Co-led by Cary Reid, MD, PhD, Director of the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life and Holly G. Prigerson, PhD, Director of the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care both based in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. Applications are accepted from both MD and PhD postdoctoral trainees (2/year) seeking careers at the intersection of biomedical and innovative social/behavioral approaches to improve care and care outcomes in older adults.

How to Apply. If you're interested in applying for this postdoctoral opportunity, please email Whitney Colon (wyc4001@med.cornell.edu) and Naomi Woubeshet (naw4001@med.cornell.edu) with the following: 1) copy of your CV and 2) a cover letter detailing your interest in the program and as well as describing why you might be a good fit for our program (500 word Limit).

Deadline. Applications will be accepted until February 1st of desired start year.  Candidates will be selected on a rolling basis each year until each of the 2 new slots per year are filled.

Behavioral Geriatrics Description. Behavioral Geriatrics is a scientific discipline that explicitly integrates social/behavioral approaches with biomedical approaches to study clinically significant and pressing issues of aging (e.g., pain, cognitive impairment, polypharmacy, caregiving, end-of-life medical decision-making, bereavement). The distinctive Year 1 Behavioral Geriatrics Didactic Core will cover topics including clinical and psychosocial epidemiology, community-based participatory research, health services research, and trial design as related to the study of older adults.

Program Centerpiece. Co-Mentored research in Year 1, culminating in a Year 2 research project for which the Trainee serves as PI under Co-Mentor supervision. Our cadre of experienced and successful Behavioral Geriatrics research mentors include Co-Directors Reid (management of multifactorial pain in later life) and Prigerson (care of patients and families at the end-of-life and into bereavement). Additional faculty members include: Dr. Ronald Adelman (palliative care), Dr. Mark Lachs (elder abuse) Dr. Karl Pillemer (family dynamics and family care of older adults), Dr. Elaine Wethington (social isolation/integration) and Dr. Sara Czaja (interaction of older adults with technology systems in various settings). For our complete mentor list, contact Whitney Colon at wyc4001@med.cornell.edu. Trainees will be integrated into a large,” research-ready” network of New York City organizations serving ethnically diverse older adults. We foster multiple opportunities for trainees to network with mentors and others within our aging networks.

Training Activities. All trainees participate in monthly Work-In-Progress Seminars and regularly scheduled Trainees’ Forums, which provide instruction in the presentation and publication of results, ethical conduct of research, grant preparation, and help to build career development skills. Biostatisticians and data entry and management personnel from existing grants will be available to assist T32 trainees. MD trainees will complete the Cornell CTSC Master’s degree or Certificate Program in Clinical Research. The program provides support for trainees to attend two national aging related conferences per year as well as at least one trip to the Cornell Ithaca campus to meet with our Ithaca based mentors.

Current Fellows:

David Camacho, PhD

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Dr. David Camacho is currently a T32 post-doctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. He completed his PhD in Social Work in Advanced Clinical Practice at Columbia University. His dissertation examined the relationship between Loneliness and Chronic Pain among racially/ethnically diverse community dwelling older adults in the US. David’s dissertation was supported by Council on Social Work Education Minority Fellowship Program. His research centers around the physical and mental health of ethnic and sexual minority older adults in the United States and Latin America.  His research agenda includes gaining a deeper understanding of Loneliness, Depression and Chronic Pain and Cognitive Impairment among diverse older adults. David seeks to identify and accelerate the implementation of promising interventions into real-world settings. David’s research is informed by his extensive direct clinical practice as a bilingual and bicultural clinical social worker. David has held multiple clinical and research appointments across a variety of community settings in Los Angeles and New York. 

Heather Derry, PhD

Dr. Heather Derry is currently a T32 postdoctoral fellow in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine.  She completed her PhD in psychology at the Ohio State University, and completed a clinical health psychology internship at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA.  Her research program focuses on identifying and leveraging links between stress, inflammation, and cognition. She uses biobehavioral and interdisciplinary approaches to study those with cancer, HIV, and critical illness. The goal of her work is to improve quality of life and informed healthcare decision-making among people who are aging with chronic health conditions.

Francesca Falzarano, PhD

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Francesca is currently a T32 post-doctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. She completed her PhD in the department of Applied Developmental Psychology at Fordham University, where her dissertation work evaluated how chronic stressors associated with informal dementia caregiving impacts cognitive functioning. She also has also conducted work examining the experiences of a growing population of long-distance caregivers. Francesca’s graduate-level research focused on the links among cognition, stress, and well-being in dementia caregivers, which led her to Weill Cornell to receive additional training in developing and testing innovative technologies aimed at improving the emotional well-being of individuals with dementia and their family caregivers.

Elizabeth Luth, PhD

Elizabeth Luth received her PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University. She is currently a T32 postdoctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.  Dr. Luth’s research focuses on social and demographic disparities in end-of-life care in older adults.  She has two lines of research. In the first, she works with large datasets, such as the National Health and Aging Trends Study and the National Study of Caregiving to document racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities related to advance care planning, end-of-life care quality, and caregiver burden. In the second, she works to explain mechanisms underlying observed disparities for persons with dementia and other groups potentially vulnerable to poor-quality care. Dr. Luth is currently leading a project to understand family caregiver challenges in supporting community-dwelling loved ones with dementia. She is developing a line of research that focuses on creating and testing practical, scalable interventions appropriate for diverse populations that improve quality of end-of-life care for persons with dementia and their family members.

 Past Fellows:

Keiko Kurita, PhD, MPH

Dr. Kurita was a T32 post-doctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics from 2016-2018 and is our first cohort to complete the program. She received her PhD in Psychology (clinical science, specializing in aging) and MPH from the University of Southern California and completed her clinical internship at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Kurita’s research focuses on the relationship between cognitive function and treatment received by older adults with the goal of improving psychological well-being.

Elissa Kozlov, PhD

Elissa is currently a T32 post-doctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. Previously, Elissa completed her clinical internship in geropsychology at the Palo Alto VA Health Care System, and she earned her doctorate from Washington University in both Clinical and Aging and Developmental Psychology. Elissa's past research focused on access to palliative care and barriers to palliative care integration looking specifically at patients' knowledge deficits. For her dissertation, Elissa developed and validated the Palliative Care Knowledge Scale (PaCKS), a brief true/false scale designed to assess knowledge of palliative care in the general population. Her current research focuses on access to mental health care in patients with life-limiting illness and developing mental health and palliative care interventions. She has complementary interests in late life family planning and communication and interdisciplinary training and education.

Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medicine New York, NY