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Leadership

Jeffrey B. Halter, M.D.

Jeffrey B. Halter Professor of Internal Medicine
Director, Geriatrics Center

Dr. Halter established the U-M Geriatrics Center as its director in 1987. Under his leadership, the U-M geriatrics programs consistently rank among the nation’s best for hospital care and medical school training. Dr. Halter also established the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System in 1989, where he served as director until 1998. Dr. Halter’s research interests include neuroendocrine regulation of metabolism in aging and in diabetes mellitus. Widely published in the scientific literature, he is the senior editor of Hazzard’s Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 6th Edition, 2009. He has held many leadership positions in national professional organizations and advisory boards. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Halter is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the American Geriatrics Society Nascher/Manning Award for lifetime achievement in 2008.

Raymond Yung, M.B., Ch.B

Dr. Raymond Yung Professor of Internal Medicine
Chief, Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Co-Director, Geriatrics Center
Director, Institute of Gerontology
Associate Director of Research, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Dr. Yung specializes in the care of older adults with arthritis. His research focuses on understanding the relationship between age-related changes in the immune system and the development of chronic inflammatory diseases in the elderly. His research has been continuously funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) since 1992. Dr. Yung is the recipient of a number of national awards including the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Senior Rheumatology Scholar Award (1995) and the Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research Award (1998). He has consistently been named among America’s “Top Doctors.” Dr. Yung is an active member of a number of national societies including the American College of Rheumatology (Committee on Education, Annual Meeting Planning Committee, the ACR-NIH Relations Subcommittee, Patient Education Task Force) and the Association of Specialty Professors (T. Franklin Williams Scholars Program, Geriatrics Steering Committee). Dr. Yung served as the director of the Musculoskeletal Sequence Course for the University of Michigan Medical School from 2002 to 2007. Dr. Yung received his medical training at the University of Liverpool, England. After completing his Internal Medicine residency in Detroit, he received fellowship training in Rheumatology and Geriatric Medicine, both at the University of Michigan.

Neil B. Alexander, M.D., M.S.

Neil B. Alexander Professor of Internal Medicine,
Research Professor, Institute of Gerontology
Director, Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center,
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Dr. Alexander is also Director of the Mobility Research Center at the Geriatrics Center. He has extensive experience in studying mobility problems in older adults. The primary focus of Dr. Alexander's work is on assessments and interventions to enhance mobility and physical activity in both able and disabled older adults, with studies of mechanisms underlying aerobic, strength, and balance function. He has been a Core leader and project PI on collaborative projects (and a long-running NIA Program Project) with the Biomechanics Research Laboratory at U-M, focusing on gait, postural control, and aspects of cognition. He has been funded by a series of pilot and randomized intervention development studies through the U-M Pepper Center since the Center's inception, related to improving the ability to rise from a chair and to improving dynamic balance and rapid stepping ability in at-risk older adults. He received a Fulbright Award to develop a community-based fall risk reduction program, piloted in Jerusalem, Israel.

James T. Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

James T. Fitzgerald Professor of Medical Education
Associate Director for Education, Geriatrics Center
Associate Director, Education and Evaluation,
Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center,
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Dr. Fitzgerald has conducted evaluation and behavioral research focusing on health care issues of older adults and minority populations for 23 years. He is Director, Data Management and Analysis Group, Department of Medical Education. His major research interests include the influence of social and cultural factors on health behavior and health attitudes, gender and ethnic differences in the self-care of type 2 diabetes mellitus, health care of older adults, and the development of survey instruments. He has been central in the development and validation of the following surveys: the Diabetes Care Profile, the Brief Diabetes Knowledge Test, the Diabetes Attitudes Scale, the Diabetes Empowerment Scale, the Geriatrics Clinical Decision Making Assessment and the Diabetes Semantic Differential Scale.

Robert Hogikyan, M.D., M.P.H.

Robert Hogikyan Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Section Chief, Geriatric Medicine and Medical Director, Community Living Center,
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

During fellowship in geriatric medicine at U-M, Dr. Hogikyan learned investigative techniques in the Mark Supiano / Jeff Halter laboratory performing many physiological studies related to blood flow in older adults, particularly those with diabetes mellitus. Upon joining the Division of Geriatric Medicine as a junior faculty member in 1991, he took on the position of Medical Director of the then Nursing Home Care Unit at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. While participating in studies of blood flow, Dr. Hogikyan also did other health services work, but also continued to grow his participation in education of both geriatric medicine fellows and internal medicine house officers rotating through geriatric medicine. In 2002 Dr. Hogikyan became Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and became Director of the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program. He directed the program until 2012.

Helen C. Kales, M.D.

Helen C. Kales Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Director, Geropsychiatry Section, Department of Psychiatry
Assistant Director, Mental Health and Aging Research, Geriatrics Center
Research Scientist, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Dr. Kales has established and directed a sustained, multidisciplinary research program investigating depression in later-life as well as outcomes associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia. She has been the principal investigator on a number of foundation grants, and currently is the principal investigator on 2 federally-funded grants, the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and led the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry’s 15th Annual Summer Research Institute in 2009 in Ann Arbor. As a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist, her research program is directly informed by her clinical work and experiences with patients, families, providers and systems to diminish the barriers to effective and quality care for older patients with mental health issues. Dr. Kales’ role includes a continued focus and expansion of outstanding education and clinical services in geropsychiatry. She is the Director of the University of Michigan Program for Positive Aging. The program strives to bridge the gap between existing knowledge and practice, and to utilize promising research findings to educate new clinical and research professionals, improve care, and disseminate knowledge regarding aging and mental health locally, statewide and nationally.

Kenneth M. Langa, M.D., Ph.D.

Kenneth M. Langa Professor of Internal Medicine
and Institute for Social Research
Associate Director for Population Studies,
Geriatrics Center and Institute of Gerontology

Dr. Langa is a Co-Investigator for the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a National Institute on Aging funded longitudinal study of 20,000 adults in the United States (http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu). He is also a Lead Investigator for the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS), a supplemental study to the HRS regarding the risk factors, epidemiology, and outcomes of dementia. Dr. Langa’s research focuses on the epidemiology and costs of chronic disease in older adults, with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. He is currently focusing on the relationship of cardiovascular risk factors to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-age and older adults. In 2007, Dr. Langa was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge where he established collaborations with an interdisciplinary research team performing cross-national comparisons of the epidemiology and outcomes of dementia in the United States and England.

Richard A. Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Richard A. Miller Professor of Pathology
Associate Director for Research, Geriatrics Center

Dr. Miller is widely recognized for his research into the genetic and immunobiological aspects of aging using mice models. His laboratory works on topics ranging from biochemistry of signal transduction in T cells from aged mice, studies of gene expression in long-lived mutant dwarf mice, mapping of genes for longevity and resistance to late-life diseases, to the development of new mouse models for alterations in the rate of aging. Dr. Miller has served in a variety of editorial and advisory positions on behalf of the Gerontology Society of America, the American Federation for Aging Research, and the National Institute on Aging. He is the recipient of the Nathan Shock Award, the AlliedSignal Award, the Kleemeier Award for aging research and the Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction from the American Federation for Aging Research.

Lona Mody, M.B.B.S., M.Sc.

Lona Mody Associate Director, Clinical Programs, VA GRECC
Associate Director for Research, Geriatrics Center
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
Research Associate Professor, Institute of Gerontology

Dr. Mody is an Associate Professor with tenure, and the Associate Director for Clinical Programs at the VA Ann Arbor GRECC. She is also the Director of the Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) for the University of Michigan Pepper Center. She has an active translational research laboratory focusing on antimicrobial resistant pathogens. Her research interests also include infection prevention, pneumonia in older adults, and quality of care in nursing homes. Her work has led to a thriving consortium of long-term care facilities in SE Michigan interested in enhancing infection prevention in a traditionally resource-poor setting. She has served as mentor to numerous junior faculty, fellows, and other learners, and is nationally active at several career development and research dissemination activities for the American Geriatrics Society, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Joint Commission. Dr. Mody received her medical training at Smt NHL Medical College in India, then completed an internal medicine residency at University of Medicine & Dentistry in NJ, and a fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Michigan in 1999.

Marcos Montagnini, M.D.

Marcos Montagnini Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Director, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program
Director, Palliative Care Program, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Dr. Montagnini is the director of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Palliative Care Program. He also developed and directs the University of Michigan Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship program which was accredited in 2009. Dr. Montagnini oversees palliative care program development for the VA Integrated Service Network (VISN)11, which includes eight hospitals in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. He belongs to several professional organizations, and leads regional and national geriatrics and palliative care committees. He has authored several publications in palliative care and has presented his work nationally and internationally. His academic interests include hospice and palliative medicine education, rehabilitation in palliative care, palliative care program development and palliative care applied to geriatric populations.

Darlene K. Racz, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.

Darlene K. Racz Associate Director for Social Work and Community Programs,
Geriatrics Center

Ms. Racz has worked in community-based aging and human services programs for more than 30 years. She is a licensed social worker whose special interests include aging and consultation on caring for an aging relative. She holds a specialist in aging certificate and a post-M.S.W. certificate in human services management, both from the University of Michigan. Ms. Racz is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers since May 1982, Advanced Social Worker in Gerontology since March 2007. She is a former member of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging Advisory Counsel. She has presented on a number of aging-related topics for the National Counseling on Aging, and is a past elected delegate to the Michigan White House Conference on Aging.

Caroline Vitale, M.D.

Caroline Vitale Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
Director, Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program

Dr. Vitale joined the Division in 2009. Now serving as Director of the University of Michigan Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program, she is involved in geriatric curriculum development, teaching and mentoring. She enjoys caring for geriatric patients and is also board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Her teaching and academic areas of interest include ethical decision-making, geriatric palliative care, and efforts to understand physician and health provider roles in care decisions affecting older adults, especially those with dementia. Dr. Vitale is Vice-Chair of the American Geriatrics Society’s Ethics Committee, and has been committed to improving care of older adults through her work on several national workgroups. She has authored publications covering ethical issues and palliative care concepts. Her clinical and academic efforts are focused on enhancing geriatric palliative care practices and in training the next generation of geriatric physicians.

Jocelyn Wiggins, B.M., B.Ch.

Jocelyn Wiggins Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
Associate Division Chief, Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine
Medical Director, Geriatrics Center Clinics
and Turner Geriatric Clinic

Dr. Wiggins joined the U-M geriatrics department in 1995. Since 2005 she has been the Medical Director for the Geriatrics Center Clinics. She oversaw the relocation of the clinic from the main medical campus to its current location in the East Ann Arbor Health and Geriatrics Center. Her research interest is focused on aging in the kidney. She co-chairs the geriatric advisory group for the American Society of Nephrology and oversaw the development of a geriatric nephrology curriculum to improve the care of older patients with kidney disease. She serves on the external advisory committee for the association of subspecialty professors/ T. Franklin Williams Scholars Program, to promote improved care for the elderly across the medical subspecialties. She publishes on aging in the kidney and reviews for several scientific journals.