Our Vision and Innovation

Ground-breaking research in aging. Game-changing results.

The Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research has been focused on finding answers to the concerns of older adults since before geriatrics formally started as a specialty.

Throughout our history, we have challenged common assumptions about aging and uncovered innovative treatments and best practices that help seniors live longer, more active, and more fulfilling lives.

Marcus Institute Key Accomplishments

The Marcus Institute has been having a direct and positive impact on senior care for more than 50 years.

Our research laid the groundwork for supportive housing as an alternative to nursing home care, showed that seniors can build muscle at any age, and developed the Minimum Data Set, a tool that all U.S. nursing homes are legally required to use to assess residents’ capabilities.

Here are just a few of the more recent notable accomplishments of Marcus Institute researchers:

  • Dr. Sharon Inouye is one of the first researchers in the world to study the impact of delirium in older adults, and developed a widely-used assessment tool and prevention strategy.
  • Dr. Dae Kim developed a frailty index algorithm based on administrative claims data that is widely used by epidemiologists and health services researchers who want to measure frailty on a population scale.
  • Dr. Susan Mitchell is the co-leader of a massive collaborative research incubator developing trials aimed at evaluating interventions for Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s-related dementia, funded through a $53.4 million National Institute on Aging grant.
  • Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone is an international leader in the study and modulation of human cortical plasticity and a pioneer in the use of noninvasive brain stimulation and its application for the study of brain behavior relations and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions in neuropsychiatry.

During the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Marcus Institute led efforts in Massachusetts to establish infection control policies for nursing homes across the state and train nursing home staff in their implementation. This effort was used as a model for a nationwide training program as part of the National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network. Research is continuing in an effort to understand the impact of these policies and other innovative programs on the quality of care in nursing homes.

Training Future Generations of Geriatric Leaders

As a Harvard Medical School affiliate, the Marcus Institute is also one of the top training sites in the country for young researchers. Our alumni have gone on to geriatric clinical and research leadership roles around the world, bringing the best practices they learned with them to further expand the impact of the Institute’s work.

New Areas of Aging Research

As a leader in the field of aging research, the Marcus Institute is never satisfied by continuing the status quo, whether in the care of older adults or our own research goals and capabilities. With the rapid growth of the senior population in the U.S., this is not the time to slow down our efforts. If anything, we must speed the pace of discovery.

To that end, we are embarking on new avenues in aging research that address the most pressing needs of the 21st century.

These initiatives touch all aspects of what we do at the Marcus Institute, cutting across disciplines and research areas. They were established during a 2021 strategic planning process that involved input from a wide group of internal and external leaders in the field of aging research, and will position the Institute to continue to have a large impact on the care of older adults for generations to come. 

Solving today’s health care challenges requires the ability to analyze huge quantities of data from sources such as electronic medical records, insurance information, large national longitudinal population-based surveys, wearable devices, repositories of genetic information, and much more.

The Marcus Institute has developed a diverse suite of software tools and techniques that supports clinical trial efforts here and in partner research institutes. Now, we are expanding our capabilities in the field of data science to supercharge the pace of discovery.

The Center for Analytic Sciences in Aging at the Marcus Institute will unite clinician-scientists using big data with aging-focused quantitative scientists who have expertise in quantitative data analysis, genetics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

While many other research programs can analyze big data, few in the world are focused on the problems facing older adults. We seek to become a unique center for the development of statistical and machine learning technologies specifically tailored to the study of aging, aging-related illnesses, and healthy longevity.

The center will unlock access to the data that will, for example, identify biomarkers showing who is susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease and would benefit from early interventions to prevent the onset of dementia. It will translate data into practice by helping clinicians access information about who’s likely to respond to a certain drug for delirium, who should receive anticoagulation for atrial fibrillation if they are at risk of falls, or who benefits most from physical therapy after a hip fracture. This kind of personalized medicine will lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life for all of us as we grow older.

There are more than one billion people aged 60 or older around the world, and that number is expected to double by 2050. Even though people are living longer, they’re not necessarily living with better health. Some older adults live an active and independent lifestyle well into their 80s or 90s, while others face disability and frailty at much younger ages.

A deeper understanding of what factors predict good health and which suggest poor outcomes would enable early detection and intervention to sustain health, prevent functional decline and disability, and improve quality of life.

To answer the question of how to predict and support healthy aging, the Marcus Institute is developing the Healthy Aging Initiative which will collect, store, analyze, and share longitudinal data about how we age.

We will involve a diverse cohort of older adults, including Hebrew SeniorLife residents, in annual non-invasive, state-of-the-art assessments of medical conditions, physical and cognitive function, mental health, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics.

We will also develop a biobank of biological samples (blood samples, cheek swabs, etc.) to support future biomarker analysis.

Ultimately, we hope to connect participants with clinical research opportunities, identify early biomarkers of the rate of aging and disease, determine factors that slow the progression of disease and prevent disability, discover risk factors for specific diseases, and enable the development and testing of interventions that can improve health for older adults.

Since our founding in the 1960s, the Marcus Institute has a history of training talented new investigators in the field of aging who are now conducting their own research that is transforming health and aging for older adults worldwide. Many of these trainees have remained at Hebrew SeniorLife, been promoted at Harvard Medical School, and taken on leadership roles at the Marcus Institute and elsewhere.

We’re proud of our successful track record, but we know that much more is needed to help address our nation’s critical shortage of clinical investigators in the field of aging. For this reason, we are developing the Career Development in Aging Research initiative to fill gaps in traditional training programs, develop an interdisciplinary training program that leverages the Marcus Institute’s collective expertise and resources, and attract promising fellows and junior faculty.

CDAR will encourage innovative work by funding pilot and exploratory grants within the Marcus Institute to acquire the preliminary data that are necessary to win future NIH career development awards and research grants.

To help postdoctoral trainees and junior faculty learn what was omitted in traditional education about aging research design and execution, we are developing a novel training course that takes advantage of the incredible experience of our senior scientists.

And, we are committed to improving diversity in the field of aging research and are accelerating our efforts to recruit, train, and retain diverse  scientists.

By focusing on postdoctoral students and junior faculty, we will mentor and train the next generation of researchers in the field of aging to become the leaders of tomorrow, leading to new discoveries that will improve the care and quality of life of older adults for decades to come.

Learn more about training opportunities at the Marcus Institute.

A researcher at the Marcus Institute for Aging Research in Boston, MA stands in front of a screen displaying a presentation. Other researchers are sitting around a table as he speaks and gestures toward them.

Philanthropy is Key to Our Success

The Marcus Institute’s growth and innovation is possible because of the generosity of donors, who provide start-up funds for new projects and initiatives.

Learn How Giving Makes an Impact

Research Areas

Learn more about the Marcus Institute’s areas of impact.

A researcher at the Marcus Institute for Aging Research in Boston, MA holds a vial of blood.

Biomarkers and Genetics

As precision medicine enters the mainstream of clinical care, Marcus Institute researchers are working to advance the understanding of disease biomarkers and genetics.

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A researcher at the Marcus Institute for Aging Research in Boston, MA studies MRI images of a human brain.

Brain Health

Through pioneering multidisciplinary research, the Marcus Institute is uncovering new answers to the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium, and other changes to the brain.

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Data Science and Technology

The Marcus Institute includes a biostatistics and data sciences faculty who collaborate with investigators to design and conduct clinical trials and observational studies in aging.

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Health Care Services and Policy

The Marcus Institute seeks to effect change in policies that impact the care of older adults by identifying age-related conditions that have an outsized impact on health care utilization and costs, while developing interventions that mitigate the issues.

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Marcus Institute researchers are examining the relationship between medicine and adverse health outcomes such as falls, injuries, and treatment side effects among older people.

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Physical Health and Function

Through the Marcus Institute’s research we are learning how older adults can maintain independence and quality of life.

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