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

Lea, Colby, Ana Quiñones, Heather Whitson, Julie Bynum, and Stephen Thielke. “Changes in Self-Rated Health During the Transition to Retiring Living Among Medicare Managed-Care Recipients..” J Hous Elderly 30, no. 1 (2016): 76–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/02763893.2015.1129383.

PMID
29527088
Full Text

Genao, Liza, Michael T. Durheim, Xiaojuan Mi, Jamie L. Todd, Heather E. Whitson, and Lesley H. Curtis. “Early and Long-term Outcomes of Older Adults after Acute Care Encounters for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbation..” Ann Am Thorac Soc 12, no. 12 (December 2015): 1805–12. https://doi.org/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201504-250OC.

PMID
26394180
Full Text

Thielke, Stephen M., Paula H. Diehr, Laura M. Yee, Alice M. Arnold, Ana R. Quiñones, Heather E. Whitson, Mini E. Jacob, and Anne B. Newman. “Sex, Race, and Age Differences in Observed Years of Life, Healthy Life, and Able Life among Older Adults in The Cardiovascular Health Study..” J Pers Med 5, no. 4 (November 25, 2015): 440–51. https://doi.org/10.3390/jpm5040440.

PMID
26610574
Full Text

Berger, Miles, Jacob W. Nadler, Jeffrey Browndyke, Niccolo Terrando, Vikram Ponnusamy, Harvey Jay Cohen, Heather E. Whitson, and Joseph P. Mathew. “Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction: Minding the Gaps in Our Knowledge of a Common Postoperative Complication in the Elderly..” Anesthesiol Clin 33, no. 3 (September 2015): 517–50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anclin.2015.05.008.

PMID
26315636
Full Text

Chandramohan, Arthika, Jonathan P. Wright, Xuan Duong Fernandez, Jie Zhuang, Leon Kwark, Sina Farsiu, Scott W. Cousins, David Madden, Eleonora M. Lad, and Heather E. Whitson. “Relationships between Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer and Brain Changes in Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” In Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Vol. 56. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2015.

Scholars@Duke

Whitson, Heather E., Sina Farsiu, Sandra Stinnett, Sung Lee, Leon Kwark, Guy Potter, James Burke, Scott W. Cousins, and Eleonora Lad. “Retinal imaging biomarkers for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.” In Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Vol. 56. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2015.

Scholars@Duke

Wright, Jonathan P., Arthika Chandramohan, Xuan Duong Fernandez, Eleonora Lad, Jie Zhuang, Scott W. Cousins, and Heather E. Whitson. “Is discrepancy in self-reported vision and visual acuity related to neurocognitive status of AMD patients?.” In Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Vol. 56. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC, 2015.

Scholars@Duke

Chandramohan, A., J. Wright, X Duong Fernandez, J. Zhuang, E. Lad, S. Cousins, D. Madden, E. Piker, D. Tucci, and H. Whitson. “The Effect of Hearing on Cognitive Evaluation in Patients with Age-related Macular Degeneration.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63:S147–S147. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2015.

Scholars@Duke

Whitson, Heather E., Ying-Hui Chou, Guy G. Potter, Michele T. Diaz, Nan-Kuei Chen, Eleonora M. Lad, Micah A. Johnson, Scott W. Cousins, Jie Zhuang, and David J. Madden. “Phonemic fluency and brain connectivity in age-related macular degeneration: a pilot study..” Brain Connect 5, no. 2 (March 2015): 126–35. https://doi.org/10.1089/brain.2014.0277.

PMID
25313954
Full Text

Whitson, Heather E., and Frank R. Lin. “Hearing and vision care for older adults: sensing a need to update Medicare policy..” Jama 312, no. 17 (November 5, 2014): 1739–40. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2014.13535.

PMID
25369486
Full Text

Pages