Announcing Our 2017 Faculty Research Fellows

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Columbia Aging Center Announces Funding for

Four New Projects to Develop Aging Science at

Columbia University

A Research Program to Explore the Modifiability of Aging


NEW YORK (June 5, 2017)—The Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center announced the recipients of 2017 Faculty Research Fellowships.  Now in the third cycle, these competitive awards are intended to deepen our understanding of aging by way of a mutli-disciplinary approach. Specifically, in light of increased human longevity around the globe, the Center is interested in research that will lead to improved aging outcomes.

“This year again, our review committee was impressed by the excellent quality of aging research being conducted across Columbia’s campuses, and we’re delighted to have this opportunity to draw attention to the university’s expertise in aging” says Ursula M. Staudinger, PhD, the Robert N. Butler Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and professor of Psychology who directs the Columbia Aging Center. “The Center’s 2017 Faculty Research Fellowship awards take into account the dynamic biological, behavioral and environment levels that together impact aging. This year’s recipients, who have a diverse array of backgrounds and expertise, propose aging research that ranges from the cellular to the institutional.

One project will examine the role of mitochondria as the interface of psychosocial experiences and genetic and epigenetic processes that mark biological aging.  A second study will look at health impacts of Medicare’s policy related to skilled nursing facility referrals. A third project will collect data about the cardiovascular effects of interspersing spurts of activity within prolonged sedentary periods.  And the fourth project will undertake a massive analysis of data from 20 countries to explain why moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to some but for others detrimental to aging well.

The Columbia Aging Center Faculty Research Fellowship program launched in 2014 and is open to researchers at Columbia University. The program’s purpose is to enable interdisciplinary study of the biopsychosocial nature of the aging process and its modifiability. Housed at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, the university-wide aging center has invested in the research of 16 Columbia faculty members todate.


The 2017 recipients are:


Keith Diaz, PhD

Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine

Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, Division of Cardiology, Columbia University Medical Center

“Interrupting prolonged sitting to improve cardiometabolic biomarkers: a cross-over trial”


Katherine Keyes, PhD

Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

“Aging well with alcohol? Harnessing longitudinal data from 20 countries to understand health impacts of moderate drinking among older adults”


John McHugh, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

“Effect of skilled nursing facility referral concentration on patient outcomes”


Martin Picard, PhD

Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine (in Psychiatry and Neurology)

Division of Behavioral Medicine, Departments of Psychiatry & Neurology, Columbia University Medical Center

 “Mitochondrial regulation of aging in humans: A transdisciplinary investigation”


These Columbia Aging Center Fellows will come together regularly to discuss new research and exchange with the Center’s in-house faculty, visiting scholars and prior Fellows. Over the coming years, the work of these Fellows will enhance an already rich body of aging research conducted at Columbia. For more information about the Center’s Faculty Research Fellowship program, please contact Senior Science and Strategy Officer, Caitlin Hawke: or visit the Columbia Aging Center’s website: