Aging Brain Center Director at the Institute for Aging Research

Meet the Aging Brain Center Director

Sharon K. Inouye, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Aging Brain Center
Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair
Professor of Medicine, HMS, BIDMC

Aging Brain Center
Institute for Aging Research
1200 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131

Tel: 617-971-5390
Fax: 617-971-5309

Dr. Sharon K. Inouye (Harvard Catalyst Profile) is the Director of the Aging Brain Center at the Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds the Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair and is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center). Her research focuses on delirium and functional decline in hospitalized older patients, resulting in more than 200 peer-reviewed original articles to date. 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, whether delirium alters the course of dementia, and whether delirium leads to longstanding cognitive impairment and pathologic changes in the brain. Dr. Inouye is committed to improving health and quality of life for older persons and their families. 

Dr. Inouye developed and validated the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), the most widely-used instrument for the identification of delirium. She conceptualized the multifactorial model for delirium, which focuses on identification of predisposing and precipitating factors for delirium. Her work involves translating theories of clinical investigation into practical applications that directly improve the quality of life for older adults. She 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 reduce falls, functional decline, and hospital costs, and to improve patient, family, and nursing satisfaction. The HELP program has been adopted by over 200 hospitals worldwide.

Dr. Inouye has been awarded many of the highest accolades in her field, and in 2011 she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.  She was previously awarded the American Geriatrics Society Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award (1998), the Donaghue Investigator Award (1998-2003), a Midcareer Award from the National Institute on Aging (1999-2005), election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation (2002), the Ewald W. Busse Research Award in Biomedical Sciences (Gerontological Society of America, 2003), the UCLA David H. Solomon Award (2005), the 2005 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Arnold P. Gold Foundation), election to the Yale Society of Distinguished Teachers (2005), election to the Association of American Physicians (AAP) (2007), the Pinnacle Award from the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the 2010 Edward Henderson Award for the American Geriatrics Society, and the 2013 Clifford A. Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School. Her work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1991. 

Dr. Inouye was previously at Yale University School of Medicine from 1985 to 2005, where she was a tenured professor of medicine, director of the Yale Mentored Clinical Research Scholars Program (K12), co-director of the Yale Program on Aging and Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, director of the Yale Mentorship Program in Patient-Oriented Research on Aging, and director of Patient-Oriented Research for the Yale Investigative Medicine Program (K30).

Selected Publications

  1. Inouye SK, Van Dyck CH, Alessi CA, Balkin S, Siegal AP, Horwitz RI.  Clarifying confusion: The Confusion Assessment Method.  A new method for detection of delirium. Ann Intern Med. 1990; 113: 941 948.
  2. Inouye SK, Viscoli CM, Horwitz RI, Hurst LD, Tinetti ME.  A predictive model for delirium in hospitalized elderly medical persons based on admission characteristics.  Ann Intern Med.  1993; 119:474-481.
  3. Inouye SK, Charpentier PA. Precipitating factors for delirium in hospitalized elderly persons: predictive model and inter-relationship with baseline vulnerability.  JAMA. 1996; 275:852-857.
  4. Inouye SK, Bogardus ST, Charpentier PA, Leo-Summers L, Acampora D, Holford TR, Cooney LM. A multicomponent intervention to prevent delirium in hospitalized older patients. N Engl J Med.  1999;340:669-676 (Lead article with editorial)
  5. Inouye SK, Bogardus ST, Baker DI, Leo-Summers L, Cooney LM, et al.  The Hospital Elder Life Program: A model of care to prevent cognitive and functional decline in hospitalized older patients.  J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000; 48:1697-1706. (with editorial)
  6. Inouye SK.  Current concepts:  Delirium in older persons.  N Engl J Med. 2006; 354:1157-1165.
  7. Inouye, SK, Baker DI, Fugal P, Bradley EH.  Dissemination of the Hospital Elder Life Program: Implementation, adaptation, and successes.  J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006; 54:1492-1499.
  8. Inouye SK, Ferrucci L.  Elucidating the pathophysiology of delirium and the inter-relationship of delirium and dementia.  J Gerontol Med Sci. 2006; 61A:1277-1280.
  9. Marcantonio ER, Rudolph JL, Culley D, Crosby G, Alsop D, Inouye SK.  Serum biomarkers for delirium. J Gerontol Med Sci. 2006; 61A:1281-1286.
  10. Alsop DC, Fearing MA, Johnson K, Sperling R, Fong TG, Inouye SK.  The role of neuro-imaging in elucidating delirium pathophysiology.  J Gerontol Med Sci. 2006; 61A:1287-1293.
  11. Jones RN, Yang FM, Zhang Y, Kiely DK, Marcantonio ER, Inouye SK.  Does educational attainment contribute to risk for delirium? A potential role for cognitive reserve.  J Gerontol Med Sci. 2006; 61A:1307-1311.
  12. Inouye SK, Zhang Y, Jones RN, Kiely DK, Yang F, Marcantonio ER.  Risk factors for delirium at hospital discharge:  Development and validation of a predictive model.  Arch Intern Med 2007; 167:1406-1413. 
  13. Fong TG, Jones RN, Shi P, Marcantonio ER, Yap L, Rudolph JL, Yang FM, Kiely DK, Inouye SK.  Delirium accelerates cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.  Neurology.  2009; 72:1570-1575. 
  14. Fong TG, Jones RN, Marcantonio ER, Tommet D, Gross AL, Habtemariam D, Schmitt E, Yap L, Inouye SK. Adverse outcomes after hospitalization and delirium in persons with Alzheimer Disease. Ann Intern Med. 2012; 156:848-856.
  15. Saczynski JS*, Marcantonio ER*, Quach L, Fong TG, Gross A, Inouye SK*, Jones RN*. Cognitive trajectories after post-operative delirium. N Engl J Med. 2012; 367:30-39. (*these authors made equivalent contributions as first or senior author)
  16. Gross AL, Jones RN, Habtemariam D, Fong TG, Tommet D, Quach L, Schmitt E, Yap L, Inouye SK. Delirium and long-term cognitive trajectory among persons with dementia. Arch Intern Med. 2012; 172: 1-8 (on-line early, with editorial).
  17. Schmitt EM, Marcantonio ER, Alsop DC, Jones RN, Rogers SO, Fong TG, Metzger E, Inouye SK and the SAGES Study Group*.  Novel risk markers and long-term outcomes of delirium: The Successful Aging after Elective Surgery (SAGES) study design and methods.  J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2012; 13: 818e1-10.
  18. Fong TG, Jones RN, Marcantonio ER, Tommet D, Gross AL, Habtemariam D, Schmitt E, Yap L, Inouye SK. Adverse outcomes after hospitalization and delirium in persons with Alzheimer Disease. Ann Intern Med. 2012; 156:848-856.
  19. Inouye SK, O’Connell JJ, Puelle MR.  A piece of my mind. Falling off the edge.  JAMA. 2013; 309:451-2.  [Case reports about the role of cognitive decline in chronic homelessness].
  20. Inouye SK, Westendorp RGJ, Saczynski J.  Delirium in elderly people.  Lancet. 2014; 383:911-922. [Systematic review]. 
  21. Inouye SK, Kosar CM, Tommet D, Schmitt EM, Puelle MR, Saczynski JS, Marcantonio ER, Jones RN. The CAM-S: Development and Validation of a New Scoring System for Delirium Severity in 2 Cohorts. Ann Intern Med. 2014; 160: 526-533.
  22. Yue J, Tabloski P, Dowal SL, Puelle MR, Nandan R, Inouye SK. NICE to HELP: Operationalizing National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines to Improve Clinical Practice. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014; 62: 754-761.
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