Public Release: 

Inouye earns GSA's 2015 M. Powell Lawton Award

The Gerontological Society of America

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) -- the nation's largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging -- has chosen Sharon K. Inouye, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School as the 2015 recipient of the M. Powell Lawton Award.

This distinguished honor recognizes a significant contribution in gerontology that has led to an innovation in gerontological treatment, practice or service, prevention, amelioration of symptoms or barriers, or a public policy change that has led to some practical application that improves the lives of older persons. It is sponsored by the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life's Polisher Research Institute and is named in memory of M. Powell Lawton, PhD, for his outstanding contributions to applied gerontological research.

The award presentation will take place at GSA's 68th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 18 to 22 in Orlando, Florida. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process. Visit for further details.

Inouye is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair, and director of the Aging Brain Center at the Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife. She serves on the faculty of the Division of Gerontology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Inouye's research interests include the epidemiology and prevention of delirium in older persons, reversible contributors to cognitive aging, and the interrelationship of delirium and dementia. Currently, she is the overall principal investigator of the Successful AGing after Elective Surgery (SAGES) study, an $11 million program project on delirium funded by the National Institute on Aging, as well as 5 other active research projects. The purpose of the SAGES study is to examine the interface of delirium and dementia, and whether delirium leads to accelerated cognitive decline.

Her work involves translating theories of clinical investigation into practical applications that directly improve the quality of life for older adults. She developed and validated the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), the most widely-used instrument for the identification of delirium, translated into over 19 languages. Inouye developed the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), a multicomponent intervention strategy designed to prevent delirium by targeting six delirium risk factors. HELP was successful in reducing delirium by 40 percent and was published in a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study was the first to show that a substantial proportion of delirium is preventable. Additionally, HELP has been shown to save about $10,000 per patient-year, to reduce falls and functional decline, and to improve patient, family, and nursing satisfaction. The HELP program has been adopted by over 200 hospitals worldwide. She is a Hartford Foundation Change AGEnt, funded to further disseminate the HELP model of care. Inouye has authored over 230 scientific articles, and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2011. In addition to her ongoing clinical and research work, Inouye has mentored over 90 students, fellows, and faculty in clinical research on aging.

Inouye is a fellow of GSA, which represents the Society's highest class of membership.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society -- and its 5,500+ members -- is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

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