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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 Patty Kim (pak2020@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.

Eligibility.  Applicants must be an MD and/or PhD recent graduate or anticipate having their degree by program start in a relevant field.  Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. 

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 Patty Kim at pak2020@med.cornell.eduTrainees 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

David_Camacho

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. 

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.

David Hancock, PhD

 David Hancock, PhD

Dr. Hancock 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 Experimental Psychology – Social Psychology emphasis at Texas Tech University.  He has previously completed another postdoctoral appointment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Psychological and Brain sciences, Social Psychology program.  His dissertation focused on examining the intersection of age, race, gender, and sexual identity on stereotypes and prejudice, utilizing a social cognitive approach.  His dissertation was funded by a grant from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.  His research focuses on minority health and aging.  Past research has examined social determinants of alcohol use and alcohol use among sexual minority older adults.  Other projects have examined stereotype content of older adults, applying an intersectional perspective.  His research agenda includes gaining a deeper understanding of intersectional older adult groups and health and behavioral outcomes, such as depression, abuse, and quality of life, especially in informal and managed care settings.

Sarah Ramer, MD, MS

Sarah Ramer, MD, MS

Dr. Ramer is an instructor in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a postdoctoral fellow in the behavioral geriatrics T32 in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine.  She is also a physician board-certified in internal medicine, pediatrics, and adult nephrology and board-eligible in hospice and palliative medicine.  Her broad research interest is in the integration of palliative care and, more generally, patient-centered care into the practice of nephrology.  She received her MD and MS in clinical research methods from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, then completed a residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and fellowships in nephrology and palliative medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Past Fellows:

Heather Derry, PhD

Dr. Heather Derry was a T32 post-doctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine's Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine.  She completed her PhD in psychology at the Ohio State University, where her dissertation work evaluated how physical fitness impacts cognitive function among post-surgery breast cancer survivors.  She also completed a clinical health psychology internship at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA, with training emphases in geropsychology, primary care mental health integration, and women's addictions treatment.  Heather's graduate-level research focused on the links among cognition, social relationships, and inflammation, which led her to Weill Cornell to gain expertise in how these areas interface with aging and medical care.  

Elissa Kozlov, PhD

Elissa Kozlov, PhD

Dr. Kozlov was 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.

Keiko Kurita, PhD, MPH

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. 

Elizabeth Luth, PhD

Dr. Luth was a T32 post-doctoral associate in Behavioral Geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. She received her PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University. Her research focuses on aging, health and end of life. Her dissertation used quantitative methods to analyze inequalities in end-of-life care. She is interested in understanding differences in expectations for and perceptions of end-of-life care by illness population and among groups who are potentially vulnerable to poor-quality care.

Catherine Riffin, PhD 

 Catherine Riffin, PhD

Dr. Riffin is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Riffin’s research is focused on understanding how families manage older adults’ chronic health conditions and enhancing family engagement in health care delivery processes. In her current work, she is designing a system for primary care that will identify family caregivers’ needs and link them with community-based resources. Dr. Riffin received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University and completed an NIH-funded research fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology and Aging-Related Research at Yale University School of Medicine.

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