Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Jennifer A. Schrack, PhD, MS, with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, recently ascended to a Co-PI leadership role with the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), which systematically gathers information over time from a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older.
Regarding this significant research role, Dr. Schrack said, “I look forward to continuing what has been done so well by NHATS for the past decade, and to looking for ways to expand and advance our understanding of disability in late life.” Annual NHATS interviews with participants are critically important to collect insightful information about the physical, social, and economic well-being of older and differently abled adults, such as: the physical, social, technological and service environment; tests and self-reports of physical and cognitive capacity; use of assistive devices and rehabilitation services; help received with daily activities (self-care, household, and medical); and participation in valued activities. Additionally, participants’ family members may be interviewed about the quality of end of life care that was received by NHATS participants who have died. Dr. Schrack is well-qualified for NHATS leadership. Her primary research focuses on the role of physiological factors in maintaining mobility and preventing disability with aging. She directs the Epidemiology of Aging Track and co-leads the Accelerometry Research Core at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health. With a Masters in Exercise Physiology from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Schrack has extensive clinical research as an exercise physiologist, with an emphasis on the assessment physical function, energy expenditure, and physical activity using accelerometers.
In addition to previously being an investigator with NHATS, Dr. Schrack is the PI of a U01 from the NIA to delineate associations among energy regulation, physical activity, and Alzheimer’s disease, and the Co-PI of a R01 from the NIA to investigate sensory and motor contributions to the development of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, she is a co-investigator of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), the Study of Physical Resiliency iN Geriatrics (SPRING), the Study to Understand vitamin D and falls in You (STURDY), the Aging, Cognition, and Hearing Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) Randomized Trial, and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Dr. David Roth, the Director of the Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins, lauded the selection of Dr. Schrack for her new leadership role in NHATS. Dr. Roth noted that “Dr. Schrack is an extremely talented, committed, and influential scholar who also has outstanding organizational and supervisory skills. She will do a great job in leading NHATS in collaboration with the other exceptional researchers working on that very important project.”
The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research lead NHATS with support from the National Institute on Aging, with data collection via Westat. Dr. Vicki Freedman from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan is NHAT’s senior co-PI; Dr. Schrack steps into this role following the death of her friend and Bloomberg School of Public Health colleague, Dr. Judith Kasper, the former NHATS Co-PI from Johns Hopkins, who deceased on August 5, 2021 from a heart attack at her home in Bolton Hill, Baltimore; you may read Dr. Kasper’s obituary here.