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Baylor College of Medicine News

Huffington Center on Aging Highlights

Research highlights

Dr. Meng Wang, assistant professor in the Huffington Center on Aging

By combining state-of-the-art imaging technology with C. elegans genetics, Dr. Wang’s laboratory identified a new pathway linking lipid metabolism with longevity. The finding has important implications to aging, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Nick Timchenko, professor in the Huffington Center on Aging

Dr. Timchenko’s laboratory recently discovered that a protein complex (p300-C/EBP) is activated in patients with age-related liver steatosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and this signature has the potential to be used as diagnostic markers as well as targets for therapeutic intervention.

Dr. Hui Zheng, director and professor in the Huffington Center on Aging

Dr. Zheng’s laboratory identified a cellular clearance pathway that potently removes neurofibrillary tangles and rescues behavioral deficits and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease mice. This finding holds great promise for Alzheimer’s disease therapy development.

Dr. George Taffet, professor in the Huffington Center on Aging

As a reverse translationalist, Dr. Taffet, a clinician and educator in the Center, takes what he learns from patients in the clinic and then models symptoms in mice to better evaluate and understand the symptoms. He is currently using this method to study a type of heart failure that is common in older adults, which he refers to as diastolic heart failure.

Clinical highlights

The House Calls Program in collaboration with Harris Health System allows geriatricians to visit their patients in the home. It’s a beneficial way for older adults to get medical care because they are less likely to get hospital-related illnesses and are less likely to become delirious in their home environment. This cost effective option allows physicians to give a good level of care to patients in the home, including blood work and event x-rays, and also allows physicians to evaluate the patients’ home environment as it relates to their health. This is also used as an educational element for Baylor College of Medicine medical students. 

Educational highlights

The Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine trains six first-year fellows in geriatric care per year. For those who want to become experts in a clinical area, there is also the option to become a second-year fellow in areas in which older adults may require special care, such as bioterrorism and wound care. The Center has the only geriatric-based wound care fellowship in the country.

The Texas Geriatric Interest Foundation is a four-year track available to BCM medical students interested in learning about geriatrics. In their first year, they are introduced to the program and before they enter the clinical phase of their medical training they are taught how to assess the function of older adults. This teaches them how to personalize their care base on the individual’s level of function.

The Texas Consortium Geriatric Education Center is one of 45 national geriatric education centers in the country and consists of 10 institutions. Led by Dr. Robert Roush, associate professor of medicine in the section of geriatrics at BCM, the Center offers health professions educators and community practitioners professional development opportunities in aging that benefit older adults and “future” older Americans.

Being recognized as Hartford Foundation Center of Excellence in geriatrics has helped the Center maintain its educational identity over the years. The Foundation seeks to recruit and train physicians to be leaders in academic geriatrics across the country and devotes the largest share of income derived from its assets to promoting academic geriatric programs in the United States.