Aging specialists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) are the proud recipients of an international designation that recognizes their pivotal role in a fast-emerging field of healthcare and research for today’s elderly. The WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center in Aging and Health designation was awarded by the World Health Organization to UTMB’s Sealy Center on Aging, which now joins only two other similarly-designated American institutions — New York University and the New York Academy of Aging.
Today’s aging population faces a wide range of issues, and their healthcare needs have become increasingly multifaceted and continuously evolving. Modern medicine has allowed more people to live significantly longer and even first world countries’ concerned government agencies are finding their resources and knowledge to be limited in fully supporting the growing elderly population. The WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centers help in the comprehensive investigation of these public health issues, from basic scientific research to clinical studies, public policies, training, and information dissemination.
The new designation gives UTMB the responsibility of identifying institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean for the purpose of forming partnerships for research on geriatric health, and for its visiting scholar programs. UTMB will also be working closely with the WHO/PAHO on accurately translating and extensively disseminating research reports, and offering opportunities for training and clinical fellowships in aging research.
Wong joined UTMB in 2008, and oversees visiting scholar programs for researchers from all over the world who are determined to gain new knowledge and skills to bring back to their country’s aging communities. Through these programs, international visitors have a unique opportunity to learn about aging through economic and residential implications, the gradual decline in physical abilities, disability and mortality, and familial/cultural factors. “To know that your work has that kind of impact on a whole country’s older population is amazing,” said Wong. “I am grateful that UTMB supports our mission and that we can in turn foster aging research throughout the region with our WHO/PAHO collaborations.”