Geriatric Affiliates - Durham VA Health Care System
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Durham VA Health Care System

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Geriatric Affiliates


Dr. Cohen 

Harvey Jay Cohen, MD, is the founding GRECC Director (1984-2007) and continues with a VA and GRECC affiliation.  He currently serves in several professional roles at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, including Walter Kempner Professor, Director, Center for the Study of Aging, and Human  Development and Principal Investigator of the Duke Claude Pepper Older Americans  Independence Center. He received his medical degree, cum laude, from Downstate Medical College of the State University of New York (SUNY). He served his internship in medicine at Duke University Medical Center, where he was later a resident and a Fellow in Hematology-Oncology. He was also a staff associate for the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases.

Dr. Cohen chairs the Cancer in the Elderly Committee for Cancer and Acute Leukemia Group B (CALGB), and co-chairs the Task Force on Cancer and Aging for the American Association for Cancer Research. He is also a member of the International Association of Gerontology Governing Board. He is a past President of the American Geriatrics Society, the Gerontological Society of America and the International Society of Geriatric Oncology.

Dr. Cohen is on the editorial board of Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. He is also on the International Editorial Board of Geriatrics & Gerontology International and on
the Editorial Advisory Board of both The American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy and Research News.

He has published extensively with more than 300 articles and book chapters on topics in geriatrics and hematology/oncology, with special emphasis on aspects of cancer and immunologic disorders in the elderly, and geriatric assessment. His current interests are geriatric assessment, biologic basis for functional decline, and cancer and hematologic malignancies in the elderly. He is author of the book Taking Care After 50, and co-author of The Link Between Religion and Health: Psychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor. In addition, Dr. Cohen is co-editor of Geriatric Medicine, 4th Edition.

Dr. Cohen is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who Among American’s Teachers, Who’s Who in Frontiers of Science and Technology, Who’s Who in Science, International Who’s Who in Medicine, American Men and Women of Science and Biography International. He has received the Joseph T. Freeman Award and the Kent Award from the Gerontological Society of America, the Jahnigen Memorial Award from the American Geriatrics Society, the Paul Calabresi Award from the International Society of Geriatric Oncology and the Clinically-Based Research Mentoring Award from Duke University. He has been named one of the “Best Doctors” in America continuously since 1992. He has been awarded grants from the John A. Hartford Foundation for the Center of Excellence; Academic Geriatrics Recruitment Initiative, the National Institute on Aging and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Toni M Cutson, MD  Toni M Cutson, MD MHS is a staff physician in Geriatrics/GRECC at the Durham VA Medical Center and Associate Clinical Professor, Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine and Department of Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center.  She received her training geriatric medicine at Duke University and Durham VA Medical Centers.  Her board certifications are in Family Medicine with CAQ in Geriatric Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Care.  She is the Medical Director of the Palliative Care Service, Geriatrics and Extended Care at the Durham VA Medical Center and is Medical Director of Duke Homecare and Hospice.   She is a physician member of VISN 6 VHA Palliative Care Team.  She was elected to Board of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in 2009.   Her interests are in research and clinical care for patients facing life limiting illness or end of life.
Susan Francis, PharmD, BCPS 

Susan Francis, PharmD, BCPS is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in Geriatrics at the Durham VAMC.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina.  She completed an ASHP-accredited specialty residency in geriatrics at the Durham VAMC.  Dr. Francis has been a practicing pharmacist for 19 years and a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist for the past 14 years.  Her professional experiences include clinical specialty practice, community pharmacy, pharmaceutical industry, medical writing and clinical guideline development.  She has served as a content expert and clinical consultant for national long-term care pharmacy providers.  Dr. Francis maintains a clinical practice in the Community Living Center and serves as a consultant for the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Unit and the VA Geriatrics Clinic.  She has been an active preceptor and
mentor for pharmacy students, residents and fellows and served as the Residency Program Director of the PGY-2 Geriatric Pharmacy Residency Program from 2005-2010.  Her areas of interest include appropriate prescribing in the elderly, medication safety, and advancement of post-graduate training in geriatric pharmacy practice.  Dr. Francis collaborates with GRECC faculty, staff and trainees on a wide range of clinical, research and education matters involving pharmacotherapy in the elderly. 

Helen Hoenig, MD  

Helen Hoenig, MD is Chief of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Durham VAMC, Associate Professor with Tenure in the Department of Medicine/Geriatrics at Duke University Medical Center. Her original training was in Occupational Therapy.  She completed medical school at the University of Arizona, her internal medicine residency at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY, a chief residency at United Health Services, Binghamton, NY, and geriatrics fellowship at UCLA.  As a physician she is board certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, and Spinal Cord Injury, and she completed her Master's in Public Health/Epidemiology.  Dr. Hoenig has over 25 years of experience in rehabilitation outcomes research and in clinical rehabilitation.  Her research has focused on the ways that elders compensate for physical limitations and the delivery of rehabilitation services, and the impact of these on the disablement trajectory, using the results to develop and test interventions to reduce the disabling effects of mobility limitations through interventions such as changing provider behavior and systems for care, home exercise, assistive technology, and telerehabilitation.   She is a key collaborator with GRECC investigators in these areas of inquiry.   She attends in the Geriatrics Clinic and in the GEMU.  Dr. Hoenig is the recipient of multiple VA RR&D and HSR&D grants and she was a Beeson Career Development Awardee.

Kim Huffman, MD, PhD 

Kim Huffman, MD, PhD is a staff physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Durham VAMC and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Rheumatology at Duke University Medical Center.  Her research interests revolve around developing exercise interventions that target metabolic and cardiovascular outcomes in persons with rheumatologic diseases.  Currently, with the support of the NIH/NIAMS and an American College of Rheumatology-Research Education Foundation/ Association of Specialty Professor Junior Faculty Development Award in Geriatric Rheumatology, she is conducting a cross-sectional investigation to better understand the mechanisms of insulin resistance in persons with rheumatoid arthritis.  Additionally, she has ongoing collaborations with the Duke Pepper Center to better understand metabolic and inflammatory indicators of functional decline as well as indicators of functional improvements mediated by physical activity.

Clinically, Dr. Huffman directs a Musculoskeletal Medicine Clinic at the Durham VA. Targeted towards patients with regional musculoskeletal problems, this clinic provides rapid access to a sub-specialist with the goal of providing more accurate diagnoses and early rehabilitation.  Another focus of this clinic is in the education of Geriatrics fellows and Internal medicine residents to emphasize assessment and treatment of regional musculoskeletal diseases.  This clinic works closely with the DVAMC Emergency Department, Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Rheumatology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services.  Additionally, Dr. Huffman maintains a more traditional weekly Rheumatology continuity clinic at the Durham VA.  In both of these clinics, she emphasizes to both patients and residents, the importance of exercise training as a means promoting the rheumatologic, cardiovascular, and psychological health of patients with autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases.

Patrick Sullivan, Ph.D  Patrick Sullivan, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics at Duke University and the Durham VA GRECC.  He is also a Senior Fellow in the Center for Aging program at Duke University.   He received his PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship in Molecular Genetics at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill).   Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on the interaction between high fat diets, APOE4 and vascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration among a number of geriatric conditions.  He developed the first human gene “knock in” mouse using gene targeting and has created all three line of human apoE targeted replacement mice.   He has collaborated with multiple research groups nationally and internationally using this mouse model.   His research is funded by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Associations.
Jack Twersky, M.D.  Jack Twersky, MD, is Medical Director and Co-Director of the Community Living Center (CLC) at the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC).  He completed medical school at Drexel University (Philadelphia), his internal medicine residency at Georgetown, and his geriatrics fellowship training at the Palo Alto VAMC/Stanford University Medical Center.  He is the Geriatric Clinic Medical Director and he also directs the Duke University medical students 4th year rotation on the medicine service and participates in mentoring the Reynolds scholars during the medical school education and long term care curricula.  He leads or facilitates many research projects in the CLC, including those involving falls, infections, medication use and culture change.