Meet the Leadership at Innovations in Healthy Aging

Oct. 18, 2022

Innovations in Healthy Aging, a strategic initiative of the University of Arizona Health Sciences, rethinks what it means to thrive while aging. IHA brings together world-class researchers, industry experts and community partners to address the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly aging population.

Leading the initiative are Director Kathleen Insel, PhD, RN; Associate Director Mindy Fain, MD; and Associate Director Esther Sternberg, MD.

Aging happens over a lifespan. How we age and how healthy we age has implications for later years. There's no better time to start thinking about healthy aging than now.

Kathleen Insel, director of IHA

Dr. Insel is the interim dean and a professor in the College of Nursing. Her research focus is cognitive function over the lifespan. She and her team developed a successful behavioral intervention to improve medication self-management. This research has been translated into a mobile app, supporting the continued independence of older adults to positively impact their quality of life. Dr. Insel also has an active history of service nationally. She was a member of the inaugural Advisory Panel on the Assessment, Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment Options for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and serves regularly on review panels for the National Institutes of Health.

Older adults are at the heart of Innovations in Healthy Aging, which actively partners with older adults to bring their vision front and center.

[Aging] is an issue that the community is living every day. They’re thinking about the future every day, and they will help us figure out together what those models of care for healthy aging will look like.

Mindy Fain, associate director of IHA

Dr. Fain focuses on education, care and community research in her role with IHA. She holds positions as the co-director at the Arizona Center on Aging; the Anne and Alden Hart endowed chair in medicine; professor and interim chair of medicine; and professor of nursing. Her research interests include models of health delivery, telehealth and frailty. In 2008, she was appointed chair of the Governor’s Aging and Long-Term Care Healthcare Workforce Task Force. She served on the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Geriatric Medicine Board and the American Academy of Home Care Medicine’s Board and was a long-standing member of the National Institute on Aging’s Behavior and Social Science of Aging review panel.

It doesn't matter how old you are, you're aging. The idea is to age healthily, to age as well as you possibly can.

Esther Sternberg, associate director of IHA

Dr. Sternberg focuses on biomedical and environmental research in her role with IHA. She is also research director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine; founding director of the UArizona Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance; inaugural Andrew Weil Chair for research in integrative medicine; and professor of medicine, psychology, and architecture and landscape architecture and planning. She is internationally recognized as a mind-body science and design and health pioneer, as her research explores health impacts and outcomes from molecules to the built and natural environment. Dr. Sternberg created and hosted the PBS television special, “The Science of Healing,” and was recognized by the National Library of Medicine as one of 339 women who “Changed the Face of Medicine.” Her research informs integrative medicine and optimized well-being across the age span.

Dr. Sternberg's role includes overseeing seed funding for researchers to address important questions in aging. To date, IHA has awarded nearly $650,000 in grants to support cross-disciplinary, multi-departmental research across the university. Notable grants include three innovative research projects in May 2021 and another five in May 2022.

This strategic initiative does work not only within the university, but also in its surrounding community.

"Innovations in Healthy Aging is creating a very large umbrella. We want to engage researchers, scientists and faculty across the university, and to work closely with the community to further all of our goals for healthy aging," Dr. Sternberg said.

With this combined leadership, IHA positions UArizona as the go-to educational organization and premier destination for healthy aging, increasing the university's contracts, grants and partnerships, and the number of students and faculty focused on improving aging for all.