Heather Elizabeth Whitson, MD

Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in Ophthalmology
Professor in Ophthalmology
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

Sloane, Philip D., Heather Whitson, and Sharon Wallace Williams. “Addressing Hearing and Vision Impairment in Long-Term Care: An Important and Often-Neglected Care Priority.” J Am Med Dir Assoc 22, no. 6 (June 2021): 1151–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2021.04.024.

PMID
34088504
Full Text

Blalock, Dan V., Matthew L. Maciejewski, Donna M. Zulman, Valerie A. Smith, Janet Grubber, Ann-Marie Rosland, Hollis J. Weidenbacher, et al. “Subgroups of High-Risk Veterans Affairs Patients Based on Social Determinants of Health Predict Risk of Future Hospitalization.” Med Care 59, no. 5 (May 1, 2021): 410–17. https://doi.org/10.1097/MLR.0000000000001526.

PMID
33821830
Full Text

Zhuang, Jie, David J. Madden, Priscila Cunha, Alexandra Badea, Simon W. Davis, Guy G. Potter, Eleonora M. Lad, et al. “Cerebral white matter connectivity, cognition, and age-related macular degeneration.” Neuroimage Clin 30 (February 23, 2021): 102594. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102594.

PMID
33662707
Full Text

Cohen, Andrew B., Anna L. Parks, Heather E. Whitson, Susan Zieman, Cynthia J. Brown, Cynthia Boyd, Kenneth E. Covinsky, and Michael A. Steinman. “Succeeding in Aging Research During the Pandemic: Strategies for Fellows and Junior Faculty.” J Am Geriatr Soc 69, no. 1 (January 2021): 8–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16868.

PMID
33047812
Full Text

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, December 30, 2020, 891988720978791. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891988720978791.

PMID
33380241
Full Text

Zietlow, Kahli E., Deborah M. Oyeyemi, Sarah E. Cook, Margaret Hardy, Shelley R. McDonald, Sandhya Lagoo-Deenadayalan, Mitchell T. Heflin, and Heather E. Whitson. “RESEARCHCognition and Capacity to Consent for Elective Surgery.” In J Am Geriatr Soc, 68:2694–96, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16786.

PMID
33460037
Full Text

Zuo, Xintong, Jie Zhuang, Nan-Kuei Chen, Scott Cousins, Priscila Cunha, Eleonora M. Lad, David J. Madden, Guy Potter, and Heather E. Whitson. “Relationship between neural functional connectivity and memory performance in age-related macular degeneration.” Neurobiol Aging 95 (November 2020): 176–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.07.020.

PMID
32829250
Full Text

Deardorff, William J., Richard J. Sloane, Juliessa M. Pavon, Susan N. Hastings, and Heather E. Whitson. “Hospitalization Risk Among Older Adults with Sensory Impairments: Development of a Prognostic Model.” J Am Geriatr Soc 68, no. 11 (November 2020): 2650–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16800.

PMID
32852787
Full Text

Zulman, Donna M., Matthew L. Maciejewski, Janet M. Grubber, Hollis J. Weidenbacher, Dan V. Blalock, Leah L. Zullig, Liberty Greene, Heather E. Whitson, Susan N. Hastings, and Valerie A. Smith. “Patient-Reported Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health and Estimated Risk of Hospitalization in High-Risk Veterans Affairs Patients.” Jama Netw Open 3, no. 10 (October 1, 2020): e2021457. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.21457.

PMID
33079198
Full Text

Cohen, Seth M., Deborah Lekan, Thomas Risoli, Hui-Jie Lee, Stephanie Misono, Heather E. Whitson, and Sudha Raman. “Association Between Dysphagia and Inpatient Outcomes Across Frailty Level Among Patients ≥ 50 Years of Age.” Dysphagia 35, no. 5 (October 2020): 787–97. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00455-019-10084-z.

PMID
31811381
Full Text

Pages