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

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

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

Odden, Michelle C., Michael G. Shlipak, Heather E. Whitson, Ronit Katz, Patricia M. Kearney, Chris defilippi, Shani Shastri, et al. “Risk factors for cardiovascular disease across the spectrum of older age: the Cardiovascular Health Study..” Atherosclerosis 237, no. 1 (November 2014): 336–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2014.09.012.

PMID
25303772
Full Text

Clark, Nathan, Vincent S. Fan, Christopher G. Slatore, Emily Locke, Heather E. Whitson, Linda Nici, and Stephen M. Thielke. “Dyspnea and pain frequently co-occur among Medicare managed care recipients..” Ann Am Thorac Soc 11, no. 6 (July 2014): 890–97. https://doi.org/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201310-369OC.

PMID
24960243
Full Text

Whitson, Heather E., Alice M. Arnold, Laura M. Yee, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Jorge R. Kizer, Luc Djousse, Joachim H. Ix, et al. “Serum carboxymethyl-lysine, disability, and frailty in older persons: the Cardiovascular Health Study..” J Gerontol a Biol Sci Med Sci 69, no. 6 (June 2014): 710–16. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glt155.

PMID
24127427
Full Text

Whitson, Heather E., Rahul Malhotra, Angelique Chan, David B. Matchar, and Truls Østbye. “Comorbid visual and cognitive impairment: relationship with disability status and self-rated health among older Singaporeans..” Asia Pac J Public Health 26, no. 3 (May 2014): 310–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/1010539512443698.

PMID
22535554
Full Text

Hastings, S Nicole, Heather E. Whitson, Richard Sloane, Lawrence R. Landerman, Carolyn Horney, and Kimberly S. Johnson. “Using the past to predict the future: latent class analysis of patterns of health service use of older adults in the emergency department..” J Am Geriatr Soc 62, no. 4 (April 2014): 711–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.12746.

PMID
24635112
Full Text

Liu, L., H. J. Cohen, G. G. Fillenbaum, B. M. Burchett, and H. E. Whitson. “Effect of Visual, Auditory and Cognitive Impairments on Health Outcomes in Older Adults.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62:S251–S251. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014.

Scholars@Duke

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