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October 25, 2022

A quarter-century of improving the health and quality of life of older adults

header photos IU Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute; Celebrating 25 Years - 1997-2022

IU Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute marks its 25th anniversary

The Indiana University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute, an international leader focused on improving the health and quality of life of older adults, is commemorating its 25th anniversary.

Contributions over the past quarter century include conducting landmark and influential studies in dementia, depression, delirium, deprescribing, physical activity, surrogate decision-making, palliative care and advance care planning. Center investigators have expanded the concept of “the patient” to include family caregivers, focused on health equity, developed and tested one of the first team-approach elder care models (GRACE) and many additional novel models of collaborative care in the outpatient setting, for nursing home residents, and for critical care survivors including COVID patients. Several Center studies have been recognized as seminal work helping to shape the practice of geriatric medicine.

Additionally, the Center has an established track record of training current and future generations of geriatricians, other clinicians and researchers.

The IU Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief has influenced care locally, nationally and internationally for older adults residing in the community and institutional settings.

Center research funders over the past quarter century include the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, John A. Hartford Foundation, Regenstrief Institute and many others.

The IU Center for Aging Research is helping Regenstrief Institute bridge the academic-entrepreneurial gap in the healthcare space. One example is the Institute’s investment in Probari, a care-coordination startup led by a Center research scientist. The company grew out of a long-term Center study that developed a care model which generated a 33 percent reduction in avoidable hospitalizations of nursing home residents saving $ 3.4 million while improving the quality of care.

“From its earliest days, the IU Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute has been a community of scholars focused on the complexity of caring for older adults and their caregivers, helping these often vulnerable individuals maximize their quality of life,” said Susan Hickman, PhD, Center director and interim president and chief executive officer of Regenstrief Institute. “As we mark our 25th anniversary, we look forward to a future of Center innovation and impact on the lives of older adults across the nation and around the world.”

The Center was established in 1997 with support from Indiana University’s Strategic Directions Charter and matching funding from Regenstrief Institute, IUPUI, IU School of Medicine and the Council of Health Deans, composed of the deans of the IU schools of allied health sciences (now health and human sciences), dentistry, medicine, nursing, optometry and social work.

One of Regenstrief Institute’s three centers and other initiatives, the IU Center for Aging Research has grown from four researchers at its founding to 16 active faculty members today, including two of the original researchers: Christopher Callahan, M.D., an internist with a special interest in the aging brain, who arrived at Regenstrief Institute as a fellow in 1988 and later served for two decades as CAR’s first director, and Daniel O. Clark, PhD, a medical sociologist whose research focuses on the impact of physical activity on memory and executive functioning as people age.

The director of the Center for Aging Research holds the Cornelius and Yvonne Pettinga Chair of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, thanks to a generous donation early on in the Center’s development.

Locating the IU Center for Aging Research within Regenstrief “was a win-win because Regenstrief had all the basic infrastructure to support clinical research and it had an even larger infrastructure in collaboration with Eskenazi Health, Wishard at the time, where Regenstrief faculty like Clem McDonald and Bob Dittus and Bill Tierney had set up a primary care research network,” said Dr. Callahan, who founded and led the Center from 1997 to 2019. “There was a lot about Regenstrief that made it just a wonderful incubator for the Center for Aging Research.”

About Regenstrief Institute
Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health. A key research partner to Indiana University, Regenstrief and its research scientists are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies. Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Sam Regenstrief, a nationally successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible for everyone. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.

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