Opening the 2024 Annual Retreat of the University of Pennsylvania Population Aging Research Center (PARC) are the center’s co-directors and the event’s two keynote speakers: Norma Coe, PhD, Director of Research at the the Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) and PARC Co-Director; keynote Jennifer Beam Dowd, PhD, Professor of Demography and Population Health and Deputy Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford; keynote Michael Kobor, PhD, Professor of Medical Genetics in the Department Medical Genetics and the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia in Canada; and Hans-Peter Kohler, PhD, Professor of Demography at the Penn School of Arts and Sciences, PARC Co-Director, and LDI Senior Fellow. (Photos: Hoag Levins)

The University of Pennsylvania Population Aging Research Center’s (PARC) 2024 Retreat on May 3 brought together an interdisciplinary group of academics whose work exemplifies the organization’s reputation as an international leader in research on the structure, organization, health, and well-being of aging human populations. The event’s 22 podium presentations and session posters covered the gamut of health issues ranging from accelerated aging among formerly incarcerated older adults and the financial penalties borne by unpaid family caregivers, to the lack of sufficient infrastructure to meet minimal long-term care needs of older adults and the racial life expectancy disparities that speak of the structural racism that has defined the health outlook for so many Americans. Here’s a look at some of what happened in the meeting at the Penn School of Arts and Sciences’ McNeil Building:

The University of Pennsylvania Population Aging Research Center (PARC) is a 25-year-old hub of academic research focused on the nature and impact of aging trends on health and health care throughout the U.S. and the world beyond. Its center members include 66 Research Associates who are faculty members across virtually all areas of health care; 20 Research Fellows who are PhD candidates and postdoctoral students; and 10 Research Affiliates from universities in Europe and Asia. Click images for larger.
An in-depth look at the precipitous decline of life expectancy rates, keynote speaker Jennifer Beam Dowd’s presentation was entitled, “Progress Stalled? The Uncertain Future of Mortality and Healthy Aging in the U.S. and U.K.” It was a sobering data picture of a population health crisis that shows few signs of getting better any time soon. See separate text article about this presentation.
Amanda Kreider, PhD, an Associate Fellow at LDI and Postdoctoral Fellow in the Biomedical Programs of the Perelman School of Medicine, looked at how immigration enforcement impacts the supply of home health and personal care aides at a time when the U.S. population is skewing ever older and ever more in need of these services. Nearly one-third of this category of workers are foreign-born. Kreider analyzed the labor supply in relation to the federal Safe Communities Act (SCA) that prohibits questioning the immigration status of immigrant workers by courts or police officials.
Molly Candon, PhD, LDI Senior Fellow and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Health Care Management respectively in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School, gave a presentation focused on the highlights of her currently underway study of trends in pain management among older adults with Medicare Advantage.
Keynote speaker Michael Kobor, PhD, is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of epigenetics—the study of how trauma, disease, and environmental factors interact with human genes in ways that may influence the expression of certain genes. He explained the complex biochemical mechanics that can affect the layer of instructions on top of DNA code, telling a cell which genes to use and when. These changes may be transferable to offspring, potentially affecting health throughout the offspring’s life.
PhD candidate in the Penn School of Arts and Sciences, Allison Dunatchik, MPA, is collaborating with LDI Senior Fellow and SAS Associate Fellow Pilar Gonalons-Pons, PhD, on a study exploring the financial and social “penalties” inherent in the task of providing unpaid long-term care for an older adult. One issue is that home care is being impacted by changing family demographics that are providing fewer children who can potentially provide this role. The study measures the impact of caregiving on labor market outcomes.
Penn School of Arts and Sciences PhD student and LDI Associate Fellow, Elise Parrish discussed her study-in-progress on long-term care infrastructure and its impact on the numbers of older adults who co-reside in homes of their children and other adults rather than professional facilities. She noted the likelihood of such co-residence care is associated with a region’s infrastructure for long-term care that, overall, the country’s care infrastructure is insufficient in relation to the growing demand for it.
In a presentation via Zoom, Brandi Peacock, MS, Research Coordinator at the Ryskina Lab at the Perelman School of Medicine discussed an assessment of the volume outcomes for physicians practicing in nursing homes.
Tyasia Cannon, a student at the Penn College of Arts and Sciences and the research project she worked on entitled, “How Do Individuals’ Social Hierarchies Correspond to Cognitive Outcomes?” She is also an incoming LDI SUMR Scholar.
LDI Associate Fellow and Penn School of Nursing PhD student Oonjee Oh, MSN, RN, with her research poster, “Transition to Hospice: How it Impacts the Mental Health of Caregivers of Persons with Dementia.”
Colbey Freeman MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital with his research project poster, “Accelerated Aging and Formerly Incarcerated Older Adults: A Gap in Medical Education.”
Anam Rawoof, a Biology and Health Humanities student at Bryn Mawr College, and her poster, “Examining the Impact of Burnout on Research Participation in Clinicians Treating Dementia.” She is also both an LDI SUMR Scholar and an LDI GEAR UP Scholar.
Keynote speaker Jennifer Beam Dowd having a laugh with LDI Senior Fellow Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School. Behind them is Benjamin Kumwenda, PhD, Associate Professor of Bioinformatics & Computational Biology at the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) in Malawi. He is part of the Penn Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health that has been underway for 26 years.
LDI Associate Fellow Anneliese Luck, MPP, (left), with Yenny (Paola) Rueda Guevara, MPH, and LDI Associate Fellow Magdalena Delaporte, discuss the poster displays. All three are PhD candidates at the School of Arts and Sciences.
LDI Senior Fellow and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School Joanna Hart, MD, MSHP, engages in an animated discussion with Katherine Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins University, and a PARC Research Affiliate.
The soaring and airy central atrium of the McNeil Building on the Penn campus provides comfortable spaces for socializing with colleagues and meeting new potential collaborators.


Hoag Levins

Editor, Digital Publications

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