Heather Elizabeth Whitson, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate 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

Oyedeji, Charity I., Carl Pieper, Katherine Hall, Miriam Morey, Heather Whitson, and John J. Strouse. “Assessing Feasibility of a Focused Geriatric Assessment in Older Adults with Sickle Cell Disease to Address Functional Risk Factors for Morbidity and Mortality.” Blood 134, no. Supplement_1 (November 13, 2019): 518–518. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2019-122634.

Full Text

Berger, Miles, David M. Murdoch, Janet S. Staats, Cliburn Chan, Jake P. Thomas, Grant E. Garrigues, Jeffrey N. Browndyke, et al. “Flow Cytometry Characterization of Cerebrospinal Fluid Monocytes in Patients With Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction: A Pilot Study.” Anesth Analg 129, no. 5 (November 2019): e150–54. https://doi.org/10.1213/ANE.0000000000004179.

PMID
31085945
Full Text

Carpenter, Christopher R., Frances McFarland, Michael Avidan, Miles Berger, Sharon K. Inouye, Jason Karlawish, Frank R. Lin, et al. “Impact of Cognitive Impairment Across Specialties: Summary of a Report From the U13 Conference Series.” J Am Geriatr Soc 67, no. 10 (October 2019): 2011–17. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16093.

PMID
31436318
Full Text

High, Kevin P., Susan Zieman, Jerry Gurwitz, Carl Hill, Jennifer Lai, Thomas Robinson, Mara Schonberg, and Heather Whitson. “Use of Functional Assessment to Define Therapeutic Goals and Treatment.” J Am Geriatr Soc 67, no. 9 (September 2019): 1782–90. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15975.

PMID
31081938
Full Text

Swenor, Bonnielin K., Moon J. Lee, Varshini Varadaraj, Heather E. Whitson, and Pradeep Y. Ramulu. “Aging With Vision Loss: A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Visual Impairment on Older Adults.” Gerontologist, August 24, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnz117.

PMID
31504483
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Deardorff, William James, Phillip L. Liu, Richard Sloane, Courtney Van Houtven, Carl F. Pieper, Susan Nicole Hastings, Harvey J. Cohen, and Heather E. Whitson. “Association of Sensory and Cognitive Impairment With Healthcare Utilization and Cost in Older Adults.” J Am Geriatr Soc 67, no. 8 (August 2019): 1617–24. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15891.

PMID
30924932
Full Text

Ong, Sally S., Alan D. Proia, Heather E. Whitson, Sina Farsiu, P Murali Doraiswamy, and Eleonora M. Lad. “Ocular amyloid imaging at the crossroad of Alzheimer's disease and age-related macular degeneration: implications for diagnosis and therapy.” J Neurol 266, no. 7 (July 2019): 1566–77. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-018-9028-z.

PMID
30155741
Full Text

Garg, Tullika, Kathryn Anzuoni, Valentina Landyn, Alexandra Hajduk, Stephen Waring, Leah R. Hanson, and Heather E. Whitson. “Correction to: The AGING Initiative experience: a call for sustained support for team science networks.” Health Res Policy Syst 17, no. 1 (May 20, 2019): 52. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-019-0429-y.

PMID
31109322
Full Text

Oyeyemi, D., H. Whitson, J. N. Browndyke, H. J. Cohen, J. P. Mathew, and M. Berger. “Depression, Anxiety and Postoperative Cognition in Older Adults.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67:S338–S338. WILEY, 2019.

Scholars@Duke

Zietlow, K., D. Oyeyemi, H. Margaret, S. McDonald, S. Cook, S. Lagoo, M. Heflin, and H. Whitson. “Cognition and Capacity to Consent for Elective Surgery.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67:S240–S240. WILEY, 2019.

Scholars@Duke

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