Thanking Dr. David L. Roth & Welcoming Dr. Jennifer A. Schrack as our new Director of the Center on Aging & Health

image of COAH staff

Dr. David L. Roth shared his desire to step down as the Director of the Center on Aging and Health (COAH) last year.  We undertook a national search, led by Dr. Nancy Schoenborn and Dr. Karen Bandeen-Roche and an interdisciplinary committee, and I am thrilled to report that Dr. Jennifer Schrack will be the next director of COAH.  Thank you to Dr. Schoenborn and Bandeen-Roche and the entire committee!

Dr. Roth became the Director of COAH in January of 2012 and has served in this position for over 11 years.  His colleagues in the Center are grateful for his decade of steadfast leadership and commitment to the Center’s mission: to discover new and more effective ways to promote the health and well-being of older adults, and to help them continue to make valuable contributions to our communities. Empowering innovative colleagues, collaborating with interdisciplinary research teams, and mentoring students and trainees have all been hallmarks of his leadership.  Dr. Roth created a climate in which members from Johns Hopkins University’s schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing collaborate with partners around the world on shared goals in population health and applied gerontology in the areas of research, training, clinical care, and public service. Dr. Roth gave the M. Powell Lawton lecture this past fall at the Gerontological Society of America, focusing on his body of work in applied gerontology, including groundbreaking work on family caregiving that incorporates epidemiology and health services research perspectives.  Cumulatively, the impact of his work on improving the quality of life of older adults and their family caregivers has reached large numbers of older adults.

“I am truly grateful for being given the wonderful opportunity to lead this Center for the past 11 years.  I have learned so much from my incredible colleagues about teamwork, innovation, compassion, persistence, and the never-ending quest to achieve excellence.  I am very excited to see how we will continue to grow and prosper under Dr. Schrack’s leadership,” said Dr. Roth.  Dr. Roth will continue to work with the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology and his COAH colleagues as a valued member of our faculty as a researcher, mentor, and leader in applied gerontology, and will ensure a smooth transition to Dr. Schrack’s leadership.

Dr. Jennifer Schrack is an epidemiologist and gerontologist who studies the intersection of movement and health in late life. Dr. Schrack is currently the PI or MPI of multiple NIH-funded grants focused on how changes in movement and physical functioning associate with changes in physical and cognitive health in late life.  Dr. Schrack is also the MPI of the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), a large and robust ongoing cohort study of the health and function of older adults, along with Dr. Vicki Freedman from the University of Michigan.   Dr. Schrack is excited to grow the scientific focus of COAH through several initiatives with COAH’s partners in the School of Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the School of Nursing and more.  Working with interdisciplinary partners across the university, Dr. Schrack aims to leverage the NHATS dataset and the associated claims and geographic linkages to examine contributors to and consequences of disability and accommodations in late life.  Furthermore, Dr. Schrack aims to grow interventional research focused on helping older adults function optimally as they age.  A respected mentor, Dr. Schrack is looking forward to helping strengthen training programs in aging and foster the future academic success of students, fellows and junior faculty.

Regarding her new leadership role with COAH, Dr. Schrack said “It is an honor to be chosen for the position of COAH Director. I have been affiliated with COAH in various positions (trainee, fellow, faculty) since 2006. I am fortunate to work with an outstanding group of faculty, students, fellows, and staff who are dedicated to improving the lives of older adults. Together I know we will accomplish great things, and I am excited to have the opportunity to help COAH grow in its next phase.”

Please join me in thanking Dr. Roth and welcoming Dr. Schrack!

You may also be interested in these prior COAH blogs about Drs. Roth & Schrack: 


image of COAH staff


Author: Cynthia M. Boyd, MD, MPH
Director, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology