Heather Elizabeth Whitson, MD

Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in Ophthalmology
Professor in Ophthalmology
Professor in Head & Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences
Director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development
Campus mail Dept of Medicine, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 660-7514
Email address heather.whitson@duke.edu

Dr. Whitson's research is focused on improving care options and resilience for people with multiple chronic conditions.  In particular, she has interest and expertise related to the link between age-related changes in the eye and brain (e.g., How does late-life vision loss impact the aging brain or cognitive outcomes?  Is Alzheimer's disease associated with distinctive changes in the retina, and could such changes help diagnose Alzheimer's disease early in its course?).  Dr. Whitson leads a collaborative Alzheimer's Disease initiative that brings together investigators from Duke University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, with a bold vision to transform dementia research and care across Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Whitson is also interested in improving health services to better meet the needs of medically complex patients.  Within the Duke Aging Center, she leads research efforts aimed at promoting resilience to late-life stressors (e.g., surgery, sensory loss, infection).  She has developed a novel rehabilitation model for people with co-existing vision and cognitive deficits, and she is part of a inter-disciplinary team seeking to improve peri-operative outcomes for frail or at-risk seniors who must undergo surgery.  As a co-leader of a national resilience collaborative, she seeks to better understand the biological and psychological factors that determine how well we "bounce back" after health stressors.  

Education and Training

  • Fellow in Geriatrics, Medicine, Duke University, 2005 - 2006
  • Fellow in Geriatrics, Medicine, Duke University, 2003 - 2004
  • Medical Resident, Medicine, Duke University, 2000 - 2003
  • M.H.S., Duke University, 2009
  • M.D., Cornell University, 2000

Publications

Whitson, Heather E., Carol Colton, Joseph El Khoury, David Gate, Alison Goate, Michael T. Heneka, Rima Kaddurah-Daouk, et al. “Infection and inflammation: New perspectives on Alzheimer's disease (Accepted).” Brain, Behavior, &Amp; Immunity  Health 22 (July 2022): 100462–100462. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100462.

Full Text

Ehrlich, Joshua R., Jenna Goldstein, Bonnie K. Swenor, Heather Whitson, Kenneth M. Langa, and Phillip Veliz. “Addition of Vision Impairment to a Life-Course Model of Potentially Modifiable Dementia Risk Factors in the US.” Jama Neurol 79, no. 6 (June 1, 2022): 623–26. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.0723.

PMID
35467745
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Tahami Monfared, Amir Abbas, William R. Lenderking, Yulia Savva, Mary Kate Ladd, Quanwu Zhang, and Quanwu Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. “Assessing the Clinical Meaningfulness of the Alzheimer's Disease Composite Score (ADCOMS) Tool.” Neurol Ther, May 5, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40120-022-00352-w.

PMID
35513767
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Bowling, C Barrett, Theodore S. Z. Berkowitz, Battista Smith, Heather E. Whitson, Nicole DePasquale, Virginia Wang, Matthew L. Maciejewski, and Maren K. Olsen. “Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Social Distancing Among Older Adults With Kidney Disease.” J Gerontol a Biol Sci Med Sci 77, no. 4 (April 1, 2022): e133–37. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glab211.

PMID
34286836
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Ma, Justin P., Cason B. Robbins, Jia Min Lee, Srinath Soundararajan, Sandra S. Stinnett, Rupesh Agrawal, Brenda L. Plassman, et al. “Longitudinal Analysis of the Retina and Choroid in Cognitively Normal Individuals at Higher Genetic Risk of Alzheimer Disease.” Ophthalmol Retina, March 11, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oret.2022.03.001.

PMID
35283324
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Berger, Miles, Jeffrey N. Browndyke, Mary Cooter Wright, Chloe Nobuhara, Melody Reese, Leah Acker, W Michael Bullock, et al. “Postoperative changes in cognition and cerebrospinal fluid neurodegenerative disease biomarkers.” Ann Clin Transl Neurol 9, no. 2 (February 2022): 155–70. https://doi.org/10.1002/acn3.51499.

PMID
35104057
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Nagarajan, Niranjani, Lama Assi, V. Varadaraj, Mina Motaghi, Yi Sun, Elizabeth Couser, Joshua R. Ehrlich, Heather Whitson, and Bonnielin K. Swenor. “Vision impairment and cognitive decline among older adults: a systematic review.” Bmj Open 12, no. 1 (January 6, 2022): e047929. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047929.

PMID
34992100
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Cooter Wright, Mary, Thomas Bunning, Sarada S. Eleswarpu, Mitchell T. Heflin, Shelley R. McDonald, Sandhya Lagoo-Deenadalayan, Heather E. Whitson, Pablo Martinez-Camblor, Stacie G. Deiner, and Miles Berger. “A Processed Electroencephalogram-Based Brain Anesthetic Resistance Index Is Associated With Postoperative Delirium in Older Adults: A Dual Center Study.” Anesth Analg 134, no. 1 (January 1, 2022): 149–58. https://doi.org/10.1213/ANE.0000000000005660.

PMID
34252066
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Oyeyemi, Deborah M., Mary Cooter, Stacey Chung, Heather E. Whitson, Jeffrey N. Browndyke, Michael J. Devinney, Patrick J. Smith, et al. “Relationship Between Depression/Anxiety and Cognitive Function Before and 6 Weeks After Major Non-Cardiac Surgery in Older Adults.” J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol 35, no. 1 (January 2022): 145–54. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891988720978791.

PMID
33380241
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Browndyke, Jeffrey N., Mary C. Wright, Rosa Yang, Ayesha Syed, John Park, Ashley Hall, Katherine Martucci, et al. “Perioperative neurocognitive and functional neuroimaging trajectories in older APOE4 carriers compared with non-carriers: secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study.” Br J Anaesth 127, no. 6 (December 2021): 917–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bja.2021.08.012.

PMID
34535274
Full Text

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