Dr. Gene Cohen

Director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities (established 1994) at George Washington University

Dr. Gene Cohen

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Within the GW Center, he has just launched a new public education program on aging targeting the young; the program is called SEA Change – an acronym for Societal Education about Aging for Change. He also cofounded the Creativity Discovery Corps whose mission is to identify and preserve the creative accomplishments and rich histories of under-recognized talented older adults. In addition, he is the founding Director of a think tank on aging-the Washington, DC Center On Aging (established 1994). He is also Past-President (1996-1997) of the Gerontological Society of America. During 1991-1993, he served as Acting Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Before coming to NIA, Dr. Cohen served as the first Chief of the Center on Aging of the National Institute of Mental Health-the first federal center on mental health and aging established in any country. In addition, he also coordinated the Department of Health and Human Services’ planning and programs on Alzheimer’s disease, through the efforts of the Department’s Council and Panel on Alzheimer’s Disease. During his tenure with the federal government, he received the Public Health Service (PHS) Distinguished Service Medal (the highest honor of the PHS).

Dr. Cohen is a graduate of Harvard College (with Honors) and the Georgetown University School of Medicine and has a doctorate in Gerontology from The Union Institute. He is also the author of more than 150 publications in the field of aging, including several edited text books and his individually authored book The Brain In Human Aging. He completed a major new book on creativity and aging written for the general public, published in 2000 by Harper Collins/Avon Books (The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life); the paperback version and Japanese translation were released in 2001. His new book, The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, will be published by Basic Books in January 2006.

Other past positions have included those of Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown, Chairman of the Clinical Medicine Section of the Gerontological Society of America, and Chairman of the Council on Aging of the American Psychiatric Association. He was the first Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, and he was also the first Editor-In-Chief of International Psychogeriatrics (the official journal of the International Psychogeriatric Association). He was elected to the Board of Directors of The American Geriatrics Society and served as Chairman of the Committee on Aging of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. He was the primary investigator of a 25-year longitudinal study of ill older adults, with problems ranging from depression to dementia, living independently in the community, as well as having conducted extensive longitudinal research on both healthy older adults and those residing in nursing homes. He is presently conducting research on creativity and aging, retirement, assisted living and other residential settings for older adults, as well as on innovative intergenerational interventions for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), including the first game for AD, supported by the NIH. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Kent Award from The Gerontological Society of America and First Place in the Blair Sadler International Healing Arts Competition from the Society for the Arts in Health Care, and has been recognized in Best Doctors In America, Who’s Who In America, and Who’s Who In The World.

Dr. Cohen has additionally been very active in the dissemination of knowledge about aging on national television and in other major media. He has been on Nightline interviewed by Barbara Walters, the MacNeil/Lehrer Show, CBS Nightly News, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show, and in a series of public service messages with George Burns (the latter was awarded a public service gold medal media award).

Dr. Cohen also has major interests both in creativity and aging, and in intergenerational programs involving older adults and children. He has developed three new intergenerational board games that have received recognition in national and international, juried game and art shows and attention on national TV; the games were the subject of three featured lectures that he was asked to give by the Smithsonian Institution. A PBS film has been developed on his new book, The Creative Age.

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