Photo of Sharon Inouye, MD at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research in Boston, MA

Sharon K. Inouye, MD, MPH

  • Senior Scientist
  • Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair
  • Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Faculty

Sharon K. Inouye, MD, MPH, is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair and Director of the Aging Brain Center at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research. She is the Editor-in-Chief of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dr. Inouye has made a significant impact on health and medicine through her seminal research in cognitive disorders of aging, including delirium and dementia, and through her leadership in health innovation. She has combined her clinical acumen with expertise in epidemiology, public health, and public policy to revolutionize the way we provide clinical care for older adults. She created the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), translated into >20 languages and the most widely used delirium tool worldwide.

She developed an innovative approach to prevent delirium and functional decline in hospitalized older persons, the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), which has influenced how hospital care is provided worldwide.  

As a preeminent physician-scientist, Dr. Inouye has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1989. She has held >90 grants, including a current >$13 million NIH-P01 grant and a >$10 million PCORI contract. She has published >400 articles, many in the highest impact journals (H-index =115), named by Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds of the Decade, and Best Female Scientists in the World 2022 Ranking by

She is a sought-after advisor, serving on National Advisory Council on Aging (NIA Council, 2023-2027); Board on Health Care Services, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), 2019-2026; Committee on Improving the Representation of Women and Underrepresented Minorities in Clinical Trials, NASEM, 2021-2022; and President’s Advisory Council, National Academy of Medicine Grand Challenge in Healthy Longevity, 2018-present. She has served on numerous workshops and committees for NASEM. She served as Associate Editor for JAMA Network Open from 2020-2023.

Among her many honors and recognitions are the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (2005), the Henderson Award from the American Geriatrics Society (2013), the M. Powell Lawton Award from the Gerontological Society of America (2015), Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (2018), PBS-Next Avenue Influencer of Aging (2020), and the American College of Physicians John Phillips Memorial Award for Outstanding Work in Clinical Medicine (2023). She is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the Association of American Physicians (AAP) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

A dedicated teacher and mentor, she has individually mentored over 120 research trainees. Board-certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine, she has dedicated her career to serving vulnerable and underserved older and homeless populations.

View an updated publication list

Learn more about delirium and access delirium resources at Delirium Central.

For information about AGS CoCare HELP.

Research Areas

Learn more about the areas of research where Dr. Inouye focuses.

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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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 string of computer code is reflected in the glasses of a researcher at the Marcus Institute for Aging in Boston, MA.

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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A scene of a hospital floor at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston, MA, with a nurse standing and working on a computer in the background and a blood pressure monitor in the foreground.

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


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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A research subject at the Marcus Institute for Aging Research stands on a measuring platform with a computer read-out reflected on the wall behind.

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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Current Projects

View Dr. Inouye's current projects.

Better Assessment of Illness: Delirium Severity Measures for Persons with and without Dementia (BASIL)

This research aims to define delirium severity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, and develop new ways to measure delirium severity in participants both with and without dementia. 

NIH R01AG044518 

Principal Investigator

ED-DEL: Delirium in the Emergency Department Project

This research aims to inspire and engage the medical and research community to address issues of delirium and healthy brain aging as global priorities. 

ED-DEL Toolkit

Principal Investigator

Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP)

 HELP is an innovative model of hospital care, designed to prevent delirium and functional decline in hospitalized older adults by using a volunteer model to provide personal, supportive attention thru daily orientation, early mobilization, feeding assistance, therapeutic activities, a non-pharmacological sleep protocol, and hearing/vision adaptations.  The program is overseen by the American Geriatrics Society.

HELP website

Principal Investigator

Network for Investigation of Delirium: Unifying Scientists (NIDUS)

NIDUS is a collaborative research network dedicated to promoting innovation and fostering advances in delirium research through development of innovative research and measurement resources, training opportunities, pilot funding, and dissemination of information.

Principal Investigator

Role of Inflammation after Surgery in Elders (RISE)

This research aims to understand the role of inflammation in delirium and long-term cognitive decline. RISE has identified important risk markers for delirium and cognitive decline as well as biomarkers of inflammation.  

Principal Investigator

Successful Aging After Elective Surgery (SAGES)

This research aims to examine the risk factors, causes, and duration of changes in thinking, functioning, and memory after surgery and hospitalization, and in some cases, delirium in older adults. Explore the role of inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers, brain plasticity, and complicated delirium.

NIH: P01AG031720 

Principal Investigator

Delirium, Dementia and the Vulnerable Brain: An Integrative Approach

This Program Project seeks to elucidate pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the interrelationship of delirium and Alzheimer’s disease through a series of 5 interlinked projects.


P01 AG031720-06A1S1

Principal Investigators

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