Heather Elizabeth Whitson, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in Ophthalmology
Deputy 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 and health outcomes for people with multiple chronic conditions.  In particular, she has interest and expertise related to the link between changes in the eye and brain (e.g., Why do cognitive and brain changes occur in the context of late-life vision loss?  Is Alzheimer's Disease associated with distinctive changes in the retina, and could such changes help diagnose Alzheimer's early in its course?).  Dr. Whitson is also interested in improving care delivery systems and intervention programs to better serve 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).  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.

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

Berger, M., J. Browndyke, M. Cooter, W. Bullock, B. Colin, J. Gadsden, E. Iboaya, et al. “Postoperative Changes in CSF AD Markers, Cognition, and fMRI activity.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 66:S5–S5. WILEY, 2018.

Scholars@Duke

Cunha, P. P., J. Zhuang, J. P. Wright, D. J. Madden, G. G. Potter, K. Allen, E. Lad, S. W. Cousins, and H. Whitson. “Discrepancy between self-reported vision and visual acuity in patients with age-related macular degeneration..” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 66:S315–S315. WILEY, 2018.

Scholars@Duke

Cheong, Yee Ching Vanessa, Mary Cooter, Richard L. Huang, Heather E. Whitson, Harvey J. Cohen, Joseph P. Mathew, and Miles Berger. “PERIOPERATIVE TRAJECTORY OF ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE BIOMARKERS IN SURGICAL PATIENTS AND MATCHED NON-SURGICAL CONTROLS.” In Anesthesia and Analgesia, 126:353–56. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2018.

Scholars@Duke

Zhuang, Jie, David J. Madden, Xuan Duong-Fernandez, Nan-Kuei Chen, Scott W. Cousins, Guy G. Potter, Michele T. Diaz, and Heather E. Whitson. “Language processing in age-related macular degeneration associated with unique functional connectivity signatures in the right hemisphere..” Neurobiol Aging 63 (March 2018): 65–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.11.003.

PMID
29223681
Full Text

Lad, Eleonora M., Dibyendu Mukherjee, Sandra S. Stinnett, Scott W. Cousins, Guy G. Potter, James R. Burke, Sina Farsiu, and Heather E. Whitson. “Evaluation of inner retinal layers as biomarkers in mild cognitive impairment to moderate Alzheimer's disease..” Plos One 13, no. 2 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192646.

PMID
29420642
Full Text

Whitson, Heather E., Guy G. Potter, Jody A. Feld, Brenda L. Plassman, Kelly Reynolds, Richard Sloane, and Kathleen A. Welsh-Bohmer. “Dual-Task Gait and Alzheimer's Disease Genetic Risk in Cognitively Normal Adults: A Pilot Study..” J Alzheimers Dis 64, no. 4 (2018): 1137–48. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-180016.

PMID
30010120
Full Text

Horne, Alexandra J., Kimberly S. Chiew, Jie Zhuang, Linda K. George, R Alison Adcock, Guy G. Potter, Eleonora M. Lad, et al. “Relating Sensory, Cognitive, and Neural Factors to Older Persons' Perceptions about Happiness: An Exploratory Study..” J Aging Res 2018 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/4930385.

PMID
30652033
Full Text

Lin, Frank R., and Heather E. Whitson. “The Common Sense of Considering the Senses in Patient Communication..” J Am Geriatr Soc 65, no. 8 (August 2017): 1659–60. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14926.

PMID
28436020
Full Text

Tisminetzky, Mayra, Elizabeth A. Bayliss, Jay S. Magaziner, Heather G. Allore, Kathryn Anzuoni, Cynthia M. Boyd, Thomas M. Gill, et al. “Research Priorities to Advance the Health and Health Care of Older Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions..” J Am Geriatr Soc 65, no. 7 (July 2017): 1549–53. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14943.

PMID
28555750
Full Text

Lekan, Deborah A., Debra C. Wallace, Thomas P. McCoy, Jie Hu, Susan G. Silva, and Heather E. Whitson. “Frailty Assessment in Hospitalized Older Adults Using the Electronic Health Record..” Biol Res Nurs 19, no. 2 (March 2017): 213–28. https://doi.org/10.1177/1099800416679730.

PMID
27913742
Full Text

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