The elderly – especially the very old – are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population and in most of the developed world. Mental disorders are common in the elderly, and their prevalence is expected to grow rapidly as the “baby boom” generation enters retirement age. Accordingly, there is an urgent public health need to improve the effectiveness of geriatric mental health care around the world. The UW Division of Geriatric Psychiatry is a national leader in geropsychiatrist patient care, teaching, and research. A notable strength of the Division is its diverse program of clinical and basic research into aging and age-related mental disorders.
The Division provides approximately half of the faculty for the VA’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), including its Director, and the large majority of faculty for the VA’s Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC). (See also Psychiatric Neurosciences)
Specific activities of the UW geropsychiatry faculty include:
- Memory Disorders Clinic (UW) – Directed by Dr. Soo Borson, this clinic provides both training to medical professionals and comprehensive assessment for patients with memory problems. The memory disorders clinic works with patients’ primary care physicians for continued follow-up.
- Memory Wellness Program (UW/VA) - Directed by Dr. Suzanne Craft, this research program studies the connection between insulin/glucose abnormalities and memory. The program has several opportunities for participating in research.
- The University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) - Directed by Dr. Murray Raskind, the ADRC at UW is one of 29 ADRCs in the U.S. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, these centers are tasked with finding a cure or prevention for AD while applying new research to the diagnosis and care of patients. The research focus of the UW ADRC is to understand the mechanisms that lead to dementia. The center has various opportunities for those interested in participating in research.
- The IMPACT program (Improving Mood - Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment for Late Life Depression) is based on findings from a two-year study of older adults with depression led by Dr. Jurgen Unutzer. The IMPACT Implementation Center, housed at UW, provides materials and trainings to medical centers and physicians who wish to use the research–validated methods in monitoring depression in the elderly. (See also Health Services & Epidemiology)
- The ADAPT study (Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-Inflammatory Prevention Trial). Led by Dr. John Breitner, this clinical trial is designed to see if non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can prevent or delay the development of AD. Over 2500 subjects were enrolled in the study; data analysis is ongoing.
- Adrenergic Mechanisms and Treatment for PTSD and Secondary Drug Abuse – Led by Investigator Dr. Murray Raskind, this research is funded through the VA Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP). The goals of this research program are to develop better treatments for PTSD through animal models, clinical evaluations in WW II veterans, and the assessment of individuals with PTSD who have drug abuse issues.
- The Seattle Longitudinal Study (SLS) - Co-directed by Dr. K. Warner Schaie and Dr. Sherry L. Willis and funded by the National Institute on Aging. SLS was founded by Dr. K. Warner Schaie in 1956 in cooperation with Group Health Cooperative and is considered to be one of the most extensive cohort-sequential longitudinal studies of how people develop and change cognitively throughout adulthood. The current phase of this study examines whether cognition in middle age is predictive of rate of subsequent decline in old age.
- Geriatric Mental Health Services Fellowship- Directed by Dr. Jurgen Unutzer, this training program is funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health. The program is intended for social/behavioral individuals whose primary intention is to become geriatric mental health services investigators.
- VA Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics - Directed by Dr. Alvin Matsumoto, this fellowship offers additional training in research covering geriatric medicine, gerontology, and geriatric psychiatry. The program is open to individuals who have completed medical residency or obtained a doctorate in a relevant area.
- Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program - One to two year fellowships are offered and are available to general psychiatrists seeking to learn more about geriatric psychiatry.
- Neurobehavior, Neuroendocrinology, and Genetics of AD research training program – Directed by Dr. Suzanne Craft and funded by a training grant from the National Institutes of Health, this program provides interdisciplinary training in the neurobehavior, neuroendocrinology, and neurogenetics of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and related dementias. The program is open to medical doctors who have completed a residency in a related field or doctorate-level individuals with a degree focusing in a related area.