A close-up shot at two hands holding a syringe that is inserted in a vial of medication.


Marcus Institute research is optimizing the benefits of pharmaceutical treatments for older patients while ensuring safety.

Improving Medication Safety for Older Adults

People 65 and older take prescribed medications more frequently than any other age group in the United States. Almost nine out of ten older adults take at least one medication, and more than half report that they take four or more prescription drugs. 

Advances in effective therapies for preventing and curing disease have contributed significantly to longevity and wellness. 

At the same time, it’s important to recognize that our bodies process medications differently as we age and medication doses are mostly established in studies done on younger, healthier adults, which means that older patients may be at risk when prescribed certain medications at doses designed for younger people.

That’s why Marcus Institute researchers are examining:

  • The relationship between medications and adverse health outcomes such as falls, injuries, and treatment side effects among older people
  • The efficacy of deprescribing medications for older people
  • The ways that genetics can influence our response to medications
  • How certain supplements can improve or prevent conditions common in aging

The Marcus Institute’s Findings on Medication Use in Elderly Patients

Using real-world databases including Medicare claims and the Minimum Data Set, Marcus Institute researchers have:

  • Investigated the relationship of many classes of medications to adverse health outcomes
  • Gained understanding through observational studies and clinical trials of the risks and benefits of deprescribing, which is the intentional reduction or stopping of medications that might be causing harm or might not be beneficial

Research currently in progress includes:  

  • An innovative pilot program to encourage deprescribing in nursing home residents 
  • Clinical trials of probiotic and prebiotic supplements to prevent bone loss 
  • A study of drugs that can enhance cerebral blood flow, including senolytic agents, to improve executive cognitive function and the central nervous system’s control of mobility 

Medication is a critical component of medical treatment and Marcus Institute researchers are working to make sure these life-saving therapies do just that and don’t cause more harm than good.

Explore this section to learn more about the Marcus Institute’s research into the safe and effective use of medications in older adults.

Find current research projects

Showing 14 Results

Boston OAIC: A Translational Approach to Function Promoting Therapies

The Boston Older Americans Independence Center (Boston OAIC) is an interdisciplinary research network to foster translational research in function promoting therapies (FPTs) – pharmacologic, physical, nutritional, technological and behavioral interventions that reduce the burden of disabling functional limitations in older adults. 

The overarching goal of the OAIC is to strengthen and expand our expertise and scientific resources in the areas of vascular biology, physiology, genetics, epidemiology, and biostatistics, in order to enhance our understanding of the vascular role in age-related physical and cognitive functional decline, design new interventions to ameliorate this decline, and train new investigators skilled in related areas of gerontologic research. 

Dr. Lipsitz is a member of the Boston OAIC Leadership and Administrative Core (LAC). He also directs the Research Education Core (REC).

Dr. Kiel is a director of the Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC). 

Dr. Travison is a director the Biostatistical Design and Analysis Core (BDAC).

Boston Pepper Center

Principal Investigator

Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions Pilot Core

This Pilot Core will support a group of innovative and scientifically rigorous pilot studies each year that will enable the Boston Roybal Center to develop and test behavior change- strategies that promote healthy aging, especially for persons at high risk for poor health outcomes.  The work of the Core will ultimately lead to interventions to achieve health-promoting behavior change in vulnerable, at-risk populations.    

Boston Roybal Center

Principal Investigator

Combining Testosterone Therapy and Exercise to Improve Function Post Hip Fracture (STEP-HI)

This research aims to evaluate, in elderly female hip fracture patients, the benefits of short-term testosterone therapy combined with supervised exercise, on mobility and quality of life during the year following the fracture.

NIH R01AG051647

Principal Investigators

Harvard Translational Research in Aging Program (T32)

The specific aims of this training program are: 1) to provide a 2-year training program in basic and clinical aging research for postdoctoral trainees, 2) to bring together scientists across a broad range of basic and clinical research through seminars, didactic sessions, shared laboratory experiences, and collaborative projects.

Learn More

Principal Investigators

Healthy Aging Initiative

The Hebrew SeniorLife Healthy Aging Initiative is a longitudinal cohort study of older adults to identify biological and lifestyle predictors of lifelong health and well-being, as well as early biomarkers for disease, and enable development of interventions to promote healthy aging and add life to years.

The initiative leverages the expertise of all scientists at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research. 

The Healthy Aging Initiative aims to:

•    Identify the factors and predictors of lifelong health and well-being

•    Identify early biomarkers for disease and rate of aging

•    Determine factors that modify the progression of disease

•    Discover risks for specific illnesses

•    Enable the development of interventions

•    Ultimately expand the initiative to include a diverse population of older adults 

The Healthy Aging Initiative will take place at all Hebrew SeniorLife housing sites in 2023 including Jack Satter House, Center Communities of Brookline, NewBridge on the Charles, Orchard Cove, and Simon C. Fireman Community. We will be rotating through all the sites in order to conduct Healthy Aging Initiative assessments in-person, at a location that is convenient for participants.

Principal Investigator

Identifying Osteoporosis Genes by Whole Genome Sequencing and Functional Validation in Zebra Fish

This research aims to identify potential causal-variants and their targeted genes via fine-mapping on previously reported GWAS loci of osteoporosis and identify potential targets for osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures therapy.

NIH R01AR072199

Principal Investigator

Mechanistic Effects of Combined Testosterone Therapy and Exercise on Axial Bone and Muscle Post-Hip Fracture

This research aims to investigate the hormonal mechanisms of action for exercise and transdermal testosterone on the skeleton and muscle in a parent study of frail older women during recovery from hip fracture.

NIH R01AR075346

Principal Investigator

NIA AD/ADRD Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory (IMPACT)

The NIA AD/ADRD Collaboratory will provide the national infrastructure necessary to catalyze and support embedded pragmatic clinical trials of non-pharmacological interventions for persons with dementia. By convening national experts to provide consultation and guidance to Collaboratory-funded pilot projects and NIA-funded trials, the Collaboratory has the potential to transform care delivery, quality, and outcomes for millions of Americans suffering with AD/ADRD.


Principal Investigator

Nursing Home Prevention of Injury in Dementia (NH PRIDE)

This research aims to develop and implement an Injury Liaison Service in four nursing home facilities that will promote deprescribing psychoactive and cardiometabolic drugs and encourage osteoporosis treatment.

NIH R01AG062492

Principal Investigator

Join a Research Study


The goal of the study is to determine whether the senolytic medications Dasatinib and Quercetin can reduce senescent cells, increase mobility (walking speed), and improve memory in older adults.


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