An internationally known expert in aging and public health, Anne B. Newman, MD, MPH, has been chosen to lead the Department of Epidemiology at GSPH. Through research and clinical practice, Newman has shown people how to remain productive, active, and healthy as they age.
The recipient of numerous federal grants, Newman focuses on the medical, behavioral, and genetic determinants of healthy aging. She has found that diseases while still in the early and asymptomatic stages can affect physical, cognitive, and muscle function, and contribute to frailty as people age. Her work on body composition and fitness established the negative impact of high body fat on strength and walking performance, and the importance of fitness to overall function in aging.
“Dr. Newman has made seminal contributions to our understanding of what happens biologically as we age,” said Arthur S. Levine, MD, senior vice chancellor, health sciences, and dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Her research is pointing the way to not only living longer, but also living healthier.”
“Dr. Newman is an outstanding medical scientist who will be taking the helm of a very successful department,” added Donald S. Burke, MD, GSPH dean. “With her exceptional track record of grants and publications and the breadth of her knowledge and expertise, she is unquestionably the best person for the job.”
Newman has been a professor of epidemiology at GSPH since 2005 and directs the school’s Center for Aging and Population Health. She is principal investigator of numerous epidemiologic studies exploring various aspects of aging—the Health Aging and Body Composition Study, the Long Life Family Study, the Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars, the Lifestyle Interventions for Independence in the Elderly study, and the Aspirin to Reduce Events in the Elderly study.
According to Newman, the definition of old age continues to evolve. “When I began my career 25 years ago, old age was defined as 60 and older,” she said. “In 1995, it was 70 and older, and in 2005, we began focusing on age 85 and older. As more and more people now reach older age in good health, the need to maintain function becomes ever more important as a goal for public health.”
Indeed, as people live longer, aging research has changed focus from decline to understanding how people adapt biologically to maintain function and preserve life even in the face of severe illness.
“As we age, our bodies learn to repair damage in ways that can prevent cancer, remodel clogged arteries, permit new learning, and allow restoration of fitness. My goal is to understand these adaptive processes so that we can identify and target the most effective ways to improve the quality of life in old age,” said Newman.
Newman has published more than 300 manuscripts in major medical journals and has served on numerous advisory panels for the National Institutes of Health and other health agencies. She is associate editor of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science and a member of the American Epidemiology Society.