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

Lee, Moon Jeong, Varshini Varadaraj, Pradeep Y. Ramulu, Heather Whitson, Jennifer A. Deal, and Bonnielin K. Swenor. “Subjective Memory Complaints in the Visually Impaired: An NHANES Analysis.” In Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Vol. 59. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2018.

Scholars@Duke

Hadley, Evan C., George A. Kuchel, Anne B. Newman, Heather G. Allore, Jenna M. Bartley, Cindy S. Bergeman, Michael L. Blinov, et al. “Corrigendum to: Report: NIA Workshop on Measures of Physiologic Resiliencies in Human Aging.” J Gerontol a Biol Sci Med Sci 73, no. 7 (June 14, 2018): 995. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glx172.

PMID
29788088
Full Text

Garg, Tullika, Kathryn Anzuoni, Valentina Landyn, Alexandra Hajduk, Stephen Waring, Leah R. Hanson, and Heather E. Whitson. “The AGING Initiative experience: a call for sustained support for team science networks.” Health Res Policy Syst 16, no. 1 (May 18, 2018): 41. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-018-0324-y.

PMID
29776412
Full Text

McDonald, Shelley R., Mitchell T. Heflin, Heather E. Whitson, Thomas O. Dalton, Michael E. Lidsky, Phillip Liu, Cornelia M. Poer, et al. “Association of Integrated Care Coordination With Postsurgical Outcomes in High-Risk Older Adults: The Perioperative Optimization of Senior Health (POSH) Initiative.” Jama Surg 153, no. 5 (May 1, 2018): 454–62. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamasurg.2017.5513.

PMID
29299599
Full Text

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): e0192646. 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

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