May 30, 2001
In a step that will take geriatric education at Weill Cornell Medical College to a whole new level, the College has been awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to support and strengthen its educational programs in geriatric medicine.
Mark Lachs, M.D., Co-Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, said that geriatric training at the College and at its Medical Center will be strengthened at every stage from first-year medical student, through residency, to continuing medical education for the network of 14,000 practicing physicians in the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System.
"Weill Cornell seeks to be in the vanguard in addressing the special needs of older persons," Dr. Lachs said. "The older population is the fastest-growing segment of our population, and our doctors need the best training available to recognize and treat common chronic conditions in older adults."
With the Reynolds Foundation grant, all students at Weill Cornell will be introduced to a multi-year curriculum in geriatric medicine. In the first two years, opportunities for introducing geriatric issues into problem-based learning cases will be sought. Clerkships pursued in the third and fourth years will have a geriatric component.
Weill Cornell has about 440 medical students and 129 medical residents. In addition to the classroom, the geriatric training they receive will occur in the hospital, outpatient, nursing home, and housecall settings.
Weill Cornell has long been known for its strength in geriatric psychiatry, and the grant will make it possible to build on this strength to improve physicians' ability to detect and care for the elderly's problems of depression, loneliness, dementia, and other mental health conditions.
All medical residents at the Medical Center will be required to take a one-month rotation in geriatric medicine under the grant. An enhanced psychosocial curriculum and novel courses in environmental design for frail elders and geriatric psychiatry will be introduced. Special geriatric courses will be offered to the physicians in the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System.
"This grant will enable us to integrate geriatric medicine into our programs for all levels of trainees at Weill Cornell," said Dr. Ronald Adelman, also Co-Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology. "It is terribly exciting for the Medical College and the Medical Center, and we look forward to the challenge."
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, headquartered in Las Vegas, is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It was founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Mr. Reynolds was the founder and principal owner of the Donrey Media Group. When he died, in 1993, the company included over 70 businesses.
Weill Cornell boasts a long tradition of excellence in geriatric medicine. Dr. Adelman is also Director of the Irving Sherwood Wright Center on Aging, New York Weill Cornell's interdisciplinary center of excellence for geriatric clinical care. He and Dr. Lachs alternate years as Director of the Center for Aging Research and Clinical Care at Weill Cornell Medical College—a fundamental principle of this center is the idea that multiple medical and social problems conspire to erode the independence of older people, and that therefore only a team approach that marries scientists and clinicians from diverse fields can avert this erosion. The Westchester Division of New York Weill Cornell Medical Center is world-renowned for its program in geriatric psychiatry. Dr. Irving Sherwood Wright, a Cornell alumnus and physician, was a pioneer in aging research. He was the first United States physician to use heparin for peripheral vascular disease, and, at the age of 78, he founded the American Federation for Aging Research, the country's first private philanthropy dedicated exclusively to the field of geriatric medicine.