Medicine & Health

AGS honors Dr. Megan Huisingh-Scheetz with Arti Hurria Memorial Award

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IMAGE: Dr. Megan Huisingh-Scheetz, winner of the 2021 Arti Hurria Memorial Award from the American Geriatrics Society and the Health in Aging Foundation
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Credit: Megan Huisingh-Scheetz

New York (April 26, 2021)–The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and the AGS Health in Aging Foundation today conferred one of their newest honors on Megan Huisingh-Scheetz, MD, MPH, a geriatrician and epidemiologist with a unique commitment to leveraging new technology to improve the care of frail older adults. An Assistant Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of the Aging Research Program in the Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, as well as the Co-Director of the Successful Aging and Frailty Evaluation (SAFE) Clinic, at the University of Chicago, Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz will receive the fourth Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults at the AGS 2021 Virtual Annual Scientific Meeting (#AGS21; May 13-15).

“Across her body of work, Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz’s cutting-edge research investigates ways of advancing the assessment and care of frail older adults,” notes AGS President Annie Medina-Walpole. “Like the namesake for this award, Arti Hurria, her research has been so productive and impactful because it applies geriatrics principles to another intersecting field–technology.”

Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz found her niche at the intersection of geriatrics, the healthcare specialty dedicated to caring for older adults, and technology through formative work at the SAFE clinic at the University of Chicago, which translates research on frailty (the state of increased vulnerability to stress, resulting from aging-associated declines in function across multiple physiologic systems) into clinical practice. While caring for clinic patients and supporting their caregivers, the geriatrician began to explore the use of wearable sensors to accurately and remotely assess their frailty. Her research using accelerometry data from wearable devices was the first to show that frail adults are less likely to be active in the morning and are less consistent in their activity routines than non-frail adults–a finding that can transform the way clinicians evaluate physical function in older adults. Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz has further solidified her reputation as a leader in the application of new technologies to the care of older adults by developing and implementing a unique program using smart voice devices to encourage frail older adults to stay active and socially engaged in their homes.

Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz’s research presentation at #AGS21, “Normative Reference Data for the SPPB Among U.S. Older Adults Across Two Nationally-Representative Datasets: NSHAP and NHATS,” examines the performance distribution of three components of the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) among age and gender subgroups of older adults in two, NIA-funded, national datasets, producing the largest, most current SPPB reference data in U.S. adults ages 65 and older. Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz worked with colleagues at the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University to develop U.S. reference data for three assessments that are fundamental to research on and the clinical care of older adults, especially those who are frail. Using two nationally-representative data sets–the 2015-2016 National Social Life Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) and the 2016 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS)–Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz and her team generated age and gender subgroup distributions of performance in a three-meter walk, five repeated chair stands, and three different static balance stances. They also examined differences across datasets and birth cohorts. Confirming a gradual decline in physical function with age, study results can help researchers and clinicians standardize research and clinical care protocols and estimate a patient’s overall functional risk and relative performance within subgroups.

A member of the AGS since joining as a fellow in 2010, Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz currently co-leads the Junior Faculty Special Interest Group’s work on maintaining a list of funding opportunities and communicating them to AGS members.

Like Dr. Huisingh-Scheetz, Arti Hurria, MD–namesake of the Hurria Award–championed AGS programs connecting colleagues outside geriatrics to the rewards of supporting health, safety, and independence for us all as we age. Dr. Hurria, who passed away in 2018, believed in the need to infuse geriatrics principles across all specialties. The Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults, one of several honors conferred by the AGS at its Annual Scientific Meeting, recognizes the accomplishments of junior and mid-career clinician-investigators in general internal medicine and its specialties. Chosen from hundreds of research presentations submitted to the AGS, the Hurria awardee presents ground-breaking research on the geriatrics aspects of their specialty at #AGS21. With our other 2021 award recipients, the Hurria awardee represents a group of 15 healthcare leaders championing care for older adults. For more information, visit Meeting.AmericanGeriatrics.org.

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About the American Geriatrics Society

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has–for more than 75 years–worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.

About the Health in Aging Foundation

The Health in Aging Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly 1 million people with our resources through HealthinAging.org. We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation’s work, visit HealthinAging.org.

About the Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults

Arti Hurria, MD, namesake of this award, joined the AGS in 2006 and championed some of our most influential programs connecting colleagues outside geriatrics to our principles, and to the rewards of supporting health, safety, and independence for us all as we age. Dr. Hurria, who sadly passed away in November 2018, believed in the need to infuse geriatrics into all specialties. She not only put that belief into action but also became a model for making it a priority across clinical care, research, and education. The Arti Hurria Memorial Award for Emerging Investigators in Internal Medicine Who are Focused on the Care of Older Adults recognizes the geriatrics-focused accomplishments of junior and mid-career clinician-investigators in general internal medicine and its specialties. Chosen from a review of hundreds of research presentations, the Hurria Awardee presents ground-breaking scholarship on the geriatrics aspects of their specialty in a special plenary session at the AGS Annual Scientific Meeting.

About the AGS Annual Scientific Meeting

The AGS Annual Scientific Meeting is the premier educational event in geriatrics, providing the latest information on clinical care, research on aging, and innovative models of care delivery. More than 2,000 nurses, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, social workers, long-term care and managed care providers, healthcare administrators, and others will convene virtually May 13-15, 2021 (pre-conference program on May 12) to advance geriatrics knowledge and skills through state-of-the-art educational sessions and research presentations. For more information, visit Meeting.AmericanGeriatrics.org.

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