Aging and Quality of Life Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Researchers Awarded More than $1.5 Million for Geriatrics Training

March 12, 2006

As both the number and percentage of Americans over 65 continues to grow, the nation's need for physicians trained to care for the elderly is growing as well.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine has responded to these changing demographics with a successful grant award of nearly $2 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. The TTUHSC School of Medicine is one of ten medical schools receiving this prestigious training grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation this year.
Forty-eight academic health centers applied for grants. Other schools to be awarded grants include Brown University, Florida State University, Harvard University, University of Arizona, University of California - San Francisco, University of Kansas, University of Utah, Vanderbilt University and Yeshiva University.
"The Reynolds Foundation grant places TTUHSC at the cutting edge of training in geriatrics,” says Steven Berk, M.D., regional dean, School of Medicine at Amarillo and one of the co-investigators. Lynn Bickley, M.D., is the principal investigator and Stephanie Leeper, M.D. is the other co-investigator. Berk will assume the role of dean of the School of Medicine in Lubbock in July.
The grant builds on a track record of success including the Garrison Institute on Aging, a fellowship program in geriatrics which has just received a five-year accreditation, the establishment of the Amarillo Alzheimer’s Academy in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and Endowed Chairs in Geriatrics established both in Amarillo and Lubbock.
Caring for people who are in their 80's and 90's is different in many ways from medical care for younger and middle-aged people. Physicians must be prepared to identify and manage the unique and complex needs of the elderly. Training in geriatrics is critical for all physicians, Berk added.
The TTUHSC School of Medicine plans a five-part program by first implementing a required Geriatrics Track in its four-year undergraduate curriculum. Second, it will offer

a series of optional programs such as student groups, lunchtime roundtables, a geriatrics mentor program and summer research programs, to stimulate medical student interest in geriatrics.
Third, it will create an integrated geriatrics track for residents in internal medicine, family medicine and neuropsychiatry. Fourth, the project will offer geriatric training to medical and surgical specialty residents, fellows and faculty, beginning with the departments of surgery and orthopedics.
Lastly, it will establish a Geriatrics Faculty Development Program to provide new formats for faculty and practicing physicians to improve their practice and teaching of geriatrics.
"The Reynolds Foundation grant will provide greatly needed new training experiences in geriatrics, which will not only benefit our medical students, residents and faculty but also our patients," Bickley said.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it is one of the 50 largest private foundations in the United States.