Congratulations, 2022 Mason F. Lord Award Winners!

Talan Zhang (left) and Monique Lee (right), pictured with Dr. David L. Roth (center). This picture was taken at the reception for the Division of Geriatric Medicine & Gerontology’s Town Hall on June 28, 2022, at which the Mason F. Lord Staff Excellence Awards were presented.

At its annual town hall on June 28, the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology presented four high-performing professional staff with the Mason F. Lord Staff Award of Excellence.

It is worth taking a moment to reflect on the awards’ legendary namesake, Dr. Mason F. Lord. A 1954 graduate of Johns Hopkins Medicine, he is considered as one of the founders of modern Geriatric Medicine. In the 1950’s and 60’s, when the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center was still known as the Baltimore City Hospitals, Dr. Lord was the first full-time Chief of Geriatrics. At the time, many older adults arrived at the hospital with advanced chronic illnesses and they were kept at the hospital until their death in order to tend to their medical needs; the average older adult in the chronic illness section of the City Hospitals stayed for 3 or more years. To improve care for the aged ill, Dr. Lord envisioned an innovative approach involving care for older adults before they reach a critical tipping point in health and bringing them to the hospital when necessary for advanced care, and then placing them back in their homes whenever possible accompanied by regular physician home visits to continue patient care. Over time, this revolutionary approach became a national model.

The Mason F. Lord Staff Award of Excellence recognizes staff who demonstrate outstanding accomplishments in four categories—each is a hallmark of Dr. Lord’s legacy.  Here are those categories reflecting the outstanding attributes he embodied, along with the 2022 winners of the award named in his honor:

  • Performance Excellence: Monique Lee
  • Creativity and Innovation: Talan Zhang
  • Leadership: Brandon LaCour
  • Safety and Service: Jeanette Wooden

The Center on Aging and Health congratulates all of the winners, and we are particularly proud that two of these amazing professionals work with the Center’s team: Monique Lee and Talan Zhang!  Below is a description of their distinguished service.

Monique Lee, Administrative Coordinator

In his nomination for Monique, COAH Director Dr. David L. Roth said: “Monique Lee has been the full-time administrative coordinator in COAH since December of 2018.  Over the past 3 and ½ years, she has consistently been a positive and welcoming face of the Center and has also shown tremendous growth in her professional skills.  Whenever anyone calls or emails the Center, the first person they encounter is Monique, and she always warmly welcomes them and strives to be as helpful as possible.  As Center Director, I basically rely on Monique for everything….”  Monique is responsible for: scheduling and coordination of the Center’s various activities among multiple collaborators; website content management and updates; scientific clerical tasks pertaining to publications; and “Division Citizenship”—participating in many activities and to meet needs across the entire division. Without a doubt, Monique is a critical part of the COAH team.

Talan Zhang, Senior Biostatistician

Dr. Roth praised Talan’s data and programming skills in his nomination for her: “Talan has superb programming skills that have really enhanced the innovation and creativity of the teams she has been working on.  Talan has programmed the data management systems in SAS that track who is eligible to be recruited, who has been contacted, and which patients have followed up to receive the intervention…. Because of Talan’s skill and amazing dedication, she was able to basically take over this important infrastructure role in our Center….”  Talan has demonstrated creativity and innovation skills to track patents, to master accelerometry data analysis, and to analyze NHATS data. Dr. Roth added, “Using the NHATS database, Talan examined the distributions of the continuity measures and determined that these distributions were not suitable for conventional regression analyses, so she led the effort to conduct alternative quantile regression analyses instead.  The reviewers for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society were very impressed with this innovative approach and quickly accepted the paper for publication.”


Monique & Talan: Up Close & Personal

I had an opportunity to interview Monique and Talan to get to know them a little better as people, and to ask them about their reaction to receiving their award.  Here’s what they had to say:

Tony: How long have you been with COAH?
Monique: I’ve been with COAH since December 2018–so 3 ½ years.
Talan: I started it in Sep, 2019, so less than 2 years.

Tony: What do you love about your job?
Monique: My colleagues.  I can probably tell you a fun fact about everyone!
Talan: I can utilize my skills and knowledge.

Tony: What motivates you to work in the area of aging and health?
Monique: Knowing that in some small way, I’m helping people to care for family members or themselves as they age.  Being one of the caregivers to my mom, working in aging has open my eyes as to how I can help her in this phase of her journey.
Talan: I have been a data person in health care area for over 10 years. I love doing research, finding patterns behind the data, and implement the findings in the real world to benefit patients.

Tony: How does receiving an MFL award from the division make you feel?
Monique: It was a pleasant surprise.  I felt good to know that others appreciate what I do.
Talan: I feel honored, very happy.

Tony: When you are not at work, what are a few of your hobbies or favorite ways to spend your down-time?
Monique: Reading, spending time with my family/friends and helping women with their skincare needs.
Talan: Sitting meditation, reading book and listening to music.

Tony: What is at the top of your bucket list?
Monique: Shopping in Italy!
Talan: Haven’t thought about my bucket list yet!

Tony: Anything else you’d like to say?
Monique: Thank you to all who voted for me to be this year’s recipient of the MFL Performance Excellence award.
Talan: I’m very grateful for the nice colleagues’ help and support.


You may learn more about the awards and see more images from the event in a related Medicine Matters blog.

Mason F. Lord, MD

Interested in learning more about Dr. Mason F. Lord?  See these articles from the Baltimore Sun:


By Anthony L. Teano, MLA
Communications Specialist

COAH All-Stars Join #BrainMatters’ “Dementia Caregiving & Caregivers” Webinar on 7/21 at Noon

COAH Core Faculty Dr. Halima Amjad and Associate Faculty Dr. Quincy Samus will join other leading experts for a #BrainMatters webinar on “Dementia Caregiving & Caregivers” to be held on Thursday, July 21 at noon ET, for which you may register here: #BrainMatters is a collaboration among the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and JH-RCMAR with nonprofits such as the Greater MD Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health, as well as two community-based chapters of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The #BrainMatters team is committed to sharing science-based information about brain health, health disparities, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

 In For this special 1 hour webinar for dementia caregivers, Drs. Amjad and Samus from our center will join Johns Hopkins colleague Dr. Chanee Fabius with the Johns Hopkins Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (JH-RCMAR), as well as Rita B. Choula, MA from the AARP Public Policy Institute and Ilene Rosenthal from the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The webinar will be moderated by Jo Ann Scipio, MSN, RN from the Annapolis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  These expert panelists will share information about dementia caregiving, as well as useful tips and helpful resources, and they will provide a set of key take-aways for caregivers. Audience members will have the opportunity to engage with these leading experts for Q&A.

 From my point of view as a Communications Specialist with the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center’s “Memory & Aging” initiative, I am very enthusiastic about having a webinar for caregivers. “Dementia Caregiving & Caregivers” will be #BrainMatters’ first webinar, and we are looking forward to engaging with caregivers directly about their top priorities and responding to their most pressing concerns via a virtual Zoom event. This conversation will put the art of caring for the caregiver at the heart of the conversation so they can better serve their loved-ones. As a former caregiver to my Mom, who had an early-onset Frontotemporal Dementia, I am especially excited about this webinar because it will give caregivers great advice and helpful resources to empower caregivers to take better care of their loved-ones—as well as themselves.  And the Q&A feature in real time will allow experts to respond to some caregiver concerns with timely, sage advice.  I believe every caregiver needs support on their journey, and this webinar is an opportunity to take a few steps together and share tips for a smoother path ahead.

For #BrainMatters, the webinar is an innovative idea to reach people where they are; up until now, #BrainMatters has focused on Twitter Chats to discuss topics such as brain health, overcoming disparities, and providing information about the latest research in the field.  People can search the hashtag #BrainMatters on those topics to see the resources covered in those prior chats.  Also, I encourage anyone interested in brain health, memory research, and caregiver concerns to follow our social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

 For more information, email me at:


By Anthony L. Teano, MLA
Communications Specialist


older adult male stretching

Sleep Quality & Caregivers’ Well-being: Effective Interventions Needed

Better understanding of and advocating for caregivers’ needs is at the heart of much of Dr. Marcela Blinka’s research at COAH.  Recently, she and her colleagues considered that caregiving can be a source of stress, depression and anxiety, and that these factors can affect sleep quality.  So how does caregiving impact sleep quality? How much? What does that mean to the health of caregivers?

Seeking answers to these questions, Dr. Blinka and a team of COAH researchers examined data from the Caregiving Transitions Study (CTS), a highly-respected national population-based caregiver study.  Joining Dr. Blinka,  the COAH team consisted of Drs. Adam Spira, Orla Sheehan, and David L. Roth, and Tom Cidav, along with Dr. Virginia Howard and J. David Rhodes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.   The CTS looks at how the caregiver role impacts the health of those who have recently become caregivers among participants in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study.  REGARDS is a national population-based sample study of adults over age 45 in the US, looking at causal factors for the high stroke rate and death differences between Black and White residents of the Southern “Stroke Belt.”

Dr. Blinka and the research team delved into CTS data to examine the self-reported sleep characteristics of incident caregivers (CTS study participants that became caregivers after enrollment) and non-caregiving controls.  The controls were matched based on age, sex, race, education, marital status, history of cardiovascular disease, and self-rated health factors; controls did not have extended family caregiving responsibilities during their participation in the study.  The study examined the relationship between caregiving and multiple self-report measures of sleep duration and quality, as well as a number of additional factors. Blinka et al.’s findings are discussed in “Sleep Quality Reports from Family Caregivers and Matched Non-Caregiving Controls in a Population-Based Study,” which is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, March 26, 2022 and available here.

The implications of their study’s results are particularly meaningful because their data may apply to caregivers throughout the country. In 2020, the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving survey estimated that more than 50 million Americans provide unpaid care for adult family members or friends; projections of the number of Americans who are 80 years or older is expected to rise from about 13 million in 2015 to about 35 million in 2050. Anticipating their well-being is critically important to the future of our society.

Here’s what they discovered:

  • Caregivers reported significantly longer sleep onset latency than controls, before and after adjusting for covariates (ps < 0.05).
  • No differences were found on measures of total sleep time or sleep efficiency.
  • Among caregivers only, employed persons reported less total sleep time, and the number of care hours was a significant predictor of total sleep time.
  • Dementia caregivers did not differ from other caregivers.

Of noteworthy importance, however, Blinka’s team observed that poor sleep quality increases the risk for future physical and mental impairments—and with a vastly expanding number of caregivers projected in the future, this could become a health crisis if left unchecked: “Effective interventions to assess and improve caregivers’ sleep quality are needed.”

Wondering if you’re getting enough sleep? Experts recommend 6 to 8 hours of sleep for optimal health, in general.  And if you’re having trouble getting restful sleep, please make an appointment and discuss the matter with your doctor.

Dr. Blinka underscores the importance of the general research consensus on the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation over time; sleeping in on weekends doesn’t make up for it—“You can’t get it back.”  Dr. Blinka urges caregivers to be proactive in minding their sleep hygiene as a critical component of well-being and self-care.

Declaration of Conflict of Interest: Dr. Spira received an honorarium as a consultant to Merck and honoraria from Springer Nature Switzerland AG for guest editing special issues of Current Sleep Medicine Reports.


By Anthony L. Teano, MLA
Communications Specialist



Image of Senior with Rainbow Flag

Top 10 Recommended Resources About LGBTQ+ Aging & Older Adults

As June comes to a close, I thought I would share with you a few studies and helpful resources in the field of LGBTQ+ Aging & Older Adults. Below are my top 10 recommended resources in this space. As a bonus, I’ve included a short list of my favorite curated resources. I hope you will find them useful and informative.  Without further ado:

Curated Resources:

    Especially for LGBTQ+ Older Adults Coming Out to Healthcare Professionals:

   Studies Seeking LGBTQ+ Participants:

 Relevant Presentations:

Center on American Progress: 6 Consequences of SDOH on LGBTQ+ Health:

      • Substance use disorders

        • Alcohol consumption
        • Rx misuse
        • Smoking
        • Street drug
      • Obesity & eating disorders
        • Mental health, anxiety & depression
      • Isolation & loneliness
        • Suicide rates
      • Heart disease
        • Glucose control
        • Smoking
      • Breast & cervical cancer
      • Sexually transmitted infections

Baltimore-Based LGBTQ+ Health Nonprofit:

 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: LGBT Health Disparities:

“People who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) are members of every community. They are diverse, come from all walks of life, and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the country. The perspectives and needs of LGBT people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person and eliminate health disparities”

Current Events Impacting LGBTQ+ Minority Stress:


By Anthony L. Teano, MLA
Communications Specialist


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