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

Odden, Michelle C., Michael Shlioak, Heather Whitson, Ronit Katz, Patricia Kearney, Christopher deFilippi, Shani Shastri, et al. “A Comparison of Novel and Traditional Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease Across the Spectrum of Older Age: The Cardiovascular Health Study.” In Circulation, Vol. 127. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2013.

Scholars@Duke

Chaudhry, Sarwat I., Gail McAvay, Shu Chen, Heather Whitson, Anne B. Newman, Harlan M. Krumholz, and Thomas M. Gill. “Risk factors for hospital admission among older persons with newly diagnosed heart failure: findings from the Cardiovascular Health Study.” J Am Coll Cardiol 61, no. 6 (February 12, 2013): 635–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2012.11.027.

PMID
23391194
Full Text

Genao, L., H. E. Whitson, D. Zaas, L. L. Sanders, and K. E. Schmader. “Functional status after lung transplantation in older adults in the post-allocation score era.” Am J Transplant 13, no. 1 (January 2013): 157–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-6143.2012.04299.x.

PMID
23167959
Full Text

Akushevich, I., J. Kravchenko, H. Whitson, H. J. Cohen, S. V. Ukraintseva, K. G. Arbeev, and A. I. Yashin. “MEDICARE-BASED MULTIMORBIDITY INDEX FOR PROJECTING MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY AMONG OLDER ADULTS IN THE U.S.” Gerontologist 52 (November 1, 2012): 630–630.

Scholars@Duke

Whitson, H. E., A. Arnold, K. Mukamal, J. R. Kizer, D. Siscovick, S. M. Thielke, C. Hirsch, and S. Zieman. “ASSOCIATION OF N-CARBOXYMETHYL-LISINE (CML) AND FRAILTY IN OLDER MEN AND WOMEN: THE CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH STUDY.” Gerontologist 52 (November 1, 2012): 623–623.

Scholars@Duke

Whitson, Heather E., Diane Whitaker, Linda L. Sanders, Guy G. Potter, Scott W. Cousins, Deidra Ansah, Eleanor McConnell, et al. “Memory deficit associated with worse functional trajectories in older adults in low-vision rehabilitation for macular disease.” J Am Geriatr Soc 60, no. 11 (November 2012): 2087–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04194.x.

PMID
23126548
Full Text

Cohen, Rachel-Rose, Sandhya A. Lagoo-Deenadayalan, Mitchell T. Heflin, Richard Sloane, Irvin Eisen, Julie M. Thacker, and Heather E. Whitson. “Exploring predictors of complication in older surgical patients: a deficit accumulation index and the Braden Scale.” J Am Geriatr Soc 60, no. 9 (September 2012): 1609–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04109.x.

PMID
22906222
Full Text

Thielke, Stephen M., Heather Whitson, Paula Diehr, Ann O’Hare, Patricia M. Kearney, Sarwat I. Chaudhry, Neil A. Zakai, et al. “Persistence and remission of musculoskeletal pain in community-dwelling older adults: results from the cardiovascular health study.” J Am Geriatr Soc 60, no. 8 (August 2012): 1393–1400. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04082.x.

PMID
22861385
Full Text

Genao, L., H. Whitson, D. Zaas, L. Sanders, and K. Schmader. “Functional Status after Lung Transplantation in Older Adults in the Post Allocation Score Era.” In American Journal of Transplantation, 12:49–49. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012.

Scholars@Duke

Hastings, S. N., K. S. Johnson, R. Sloane, L. R. Landerman, C. Horney, and H. E. Whitson. “From the Wellderly to the Sickest Elderly: Classifying Older ED Patients According to Patterns of Health Service Use.” In Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60:S30–31. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012.

Scholars@Duke

Pages