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

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

Heflin, M. T., T. Dalton, D. Lidsky, P. Liu, L. Legath, S. McDonald, D. Nussbaum, et al. “Perioperative Optimization of Senior Health (POSH): An innovative program to improve post-operative outcomes for older adults undergoing elective surgical procedures.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62:S163–64. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014.

Scholars@Duke

Colón-Emeric, Cathleen S., Heather E. Whitson, Juliessa Pavon, and Helen Hoenig. “Functional decline in older adults.” Am Fam Physician 88, no. 6 (September 15, 2013): 388–94.

PMID
24134046
Scholars@Duke

Whitson, Heather E., Diane Whitaker, Guy Potter, Eleanor McConnell, Fay Tripp, Linda L. Sanders, Kelly W. Muir, Harvey J. Cohen, and Scott W. Cousins. “A low-vision rehabilitation program for patients with mild cognitive deficits.” Jama Ophthalmol 131, no. 7 (July 2013): 912–19. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.1700.

PMID
23619914
Full Text

Bowling, C Barrett, John N. Booth, Monika M. Safford, Heather E. Whitson, Christine S. Ritchie, Virginia G. Wadley, Mary Cushman, Virginia J. Howard, Richard M. Allman, and Paul Muntner. “Nondisease-specific problems and all-cause mortality in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study.” J Am Geriatr Soc 61, no. 5 (May 2013): 739–46. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.12214.

PMID
23617688
Full Text

McDonald, S. R., M. E. Lidsky, C. M. Poer, M. Yanamadala, H. E. Whitson, M. T. Heflin, H. K. White, J. M. Thacker, and S. A. Lagoo. “A collaborative care model for peri-operative care of older adults.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61:S73–S73. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2013.

Scholars@Duke

Whitson, H. E., K. Johnson, R. Sloane, C. Cigolle, and S. Hastings. “Comorbidity Classes Predict Acute Care Use and Readmission.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61:S85–86. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2013.

Scholars@Duke

Pages