leadership-NeilsonHarrisonThis year, Northwestern Medicine welcomed 163 medical students, 71 PhD students, 244 residents and 150 fellows to our medical school and health system. These extraordinarily talented students and trainees are part of a generation of physicians, scientists and physician-scientists that will practice in a transforming field of medicine, with access to incredible technology and scientific innovations their predecessors could only dream of.

But this new generation will also face unique challenges. One will be taking care of an increasingly aging population. By 2060, the number of people 65 or older living in the United States is expected to double. As educators, investigators and clinicians, we at Northwestern Medicine are acutely aware of the challenges this growth will bring.

How can we provide the best care possible to an aging population? How can we help patients not just live longer, but live longer with good health? How can we understand what happens to cells and tissues as people grow older and prevent devastating side effects of aging? In this issue of Northwestern Medicine Magazine, we explore how members of our community are tackling these important questions and many others.

Scientists in the lab of Doug Vaughan, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, are testing a drug that seems to slow the aging process and prolong a healthy lifespan in mice. Members of our Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center are studying a set of people in their 80s and 90s with remarkable memories, in hopes of identifying factors that could help patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Scott Budinger, MD, new chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, explores how aging affects the lung on a molecular level.

As for patient care, nearly everything we do touches the area of aging, from preventive care to disease management to palliative medicine. In this issue, we highlight our Cancer Survivorship Clinic, which unites oncologists, social workers, nutritionists, psychologists, pharmacists and geriatricians to support patients from cancer diagnosis until the end of life. We also profile alumna and Northwestern Medicine physician Lee Lindquist, MD, MPH, MBA, associate division chief of Geriatrics, who strives to keep seniors living in their homes as long as possible.

Though aging is an inevitable part of life, the work of our investigators and clinicians leaves us with a great sense of optimism about what the future will bring.

With warm regards,

Eric G. Neilson, MD
Vice President for Medical Affairs
Lewis Landsberg Dean          

Dean M. Harrison
President and CEO
Northwestern Memorial Healthcare