2020 RSI and Mini-Med School Participants

Daniel Benjamin

University of Southern California


Dr. Daniel Benjamin is a research professor at the University of Southern California and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Dr. Benjamin's research is in behavioral economics (which incorporates ideas and methods from psychology into economic analysis) and genoeconomics (which incorporates genetic data into economics). Some current research topics include understanding errors people make in statistical reasoning; exploring how best to use survey measures of subjective well-being (such as happiness and life satisfaction) to track national well-being and evaluate policies; and identifying genetic variants associated with outcomes such as educational attainment and subjective well-being. Other ongoing work addresses how economic behavior relates to cognitive ability and social identity (ethnicity, race, gender, and religion).

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Lisa Berkman

Howard University


Dr. Berkman is the director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (HCPDS) and the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is an internationally recognized social epidemiologist whose work focuses extensively on social and policy influences on health outcomes. Her research orients toward understanding inequalities in health related to socioeconomic status, different racial and ethnic groups, and social networks, support and isolation. Dr. Berkman is the principal investigator of the Health and Aging Study in Africa: A Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI), which aims to study the drivers and consequences of HIV and non-communicable diseases in an aging population in Agincourt, South Africa. In recent years, she served as a co-PI on the Work, Family & Health Network, a study involving workplace practices and employee and family health. From 2002-2016, she served as co-site director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program. Dr. Berkman received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Kathleen Cagney

The University of Chicago


Kathleen Cagney is a professor in the departments of sociology and comparative human development, as well as the director of the Population Research Center at the University of Chicago. Dr. Cagney's work examines social inequality and its relationship to health with a focus on neighborhood, race, and aging and the life course. She has developed a series of papers on neighborhood social capital and its relationship to outcomes such as self-rated health, asthma prevalence, physical activity, and mortality during the 1995 Chicago heat wave. She also focuses on the validity of such measures and the development of new neighborhood-based metrics that reflect the perceptions and experiences of older residents. Currently she works on two Chicago-based studies of neighborhood context and older adult health, and is examining the role of the social and physical environment in older adult well-being with the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Dr. Cagney holds a B.A. in sociology and political science from Western Michigan University, a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

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Judith Campisi

Buck Institute for Research on Aging/ Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Dr. Judith Campisi is a Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Early in her career, Dr. Campisi became interested in the control of cellular senescence and its role in tumor suppression and aging. Since then, she has established a broad research program to understand various aspects of aging, with an emphasis on the interface between cancer and aging. Her laboratory has made several pioneering discoveries in these areas, and her research continues to challenge and alter existing paradigms. Most recently, Dr. Campisi received the first international research award in the medical and natural sciences of The Olav Thon Foundation, Norway's largest charitable organization.

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Deborah Carr

Boston University


Deborah Carr is Professor and Chair in the Sociology department at Boston University. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. Dr. Carr has held faculty positions at University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, and most recently at Rutgers University, where she was acting director of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy & Aging Research. Her research interests include aging and the life course, psychosocial factors influences on health over the life course, and end-of-life issues. Her latest book, Golden Years: Social Inequalities in Later Life (2019, Russell Sage) delves into the ways that persistent race, class, and gender inequalities shape experiences of old age in the United States.

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Steve Cole

University of California, Los Angeles


Dr. Steve Cole is a Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the UCLA School of Medicine. His research uses computational bioinformatics to map the biological pathways by which social environments influence gene expression by viral, cancer, and immune cell genomes. Dr. Cole is a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute, director of the UCLA Social Genomics Core Laboratory and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Esther Friedman


Esther Friedman is a behavioral and social scientist at RAND. She works on a variety of topics related to healthy aging, with a focus on long-term care and family caregiving. She has published on the long-term consequences of early life adversity, neighborhoods and cognitive decline in later life, family caregiving for dementia, peer support groups for family caregivers, unmet caregiving needs among older adults, the “sandwich generation,” and policy options for dementia long-term services and supports. She is currently leading two NIH-funded studies on family caregiving. The first uses microsimulation modeling to project the availability of family caregivers for people with dementia to 2060. The second is a study of the social support networks of family caregivers. She is also co-lead on a project to develop recommendations for how to integrate family caregivers into the medical team and a project to evaluate the nation’s most recent and largest effort to rebalance Medicaid towards home- and community-based services. Finally, she is co-organizer of the Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care (ADL) Strategy Group at RAND, director of the new RAND Caregiving Initiative, and director of the RAND Mini-Medical School for Social Scientists.

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David Grabowski

Harvard Medical School


David C. Grabowski, is a professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on the economics of aging with a particular interest in the area of long-term care.

He was the principal investigator on grants from the NIA examining Medicare payment incentives and the implications for nursing home volume, patient acuity and quality of care; selection and the impact of ownership on nursing home quality; public policy and the demand for long-term care insurance; and specialization in the treatment of serious mental illness or dementia.

He is a coeditor of the journal Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology and he is a member of the editorial board of Medical Care Research & Review and B.E. Journals in Economic Analysis & Policy. He was the 2004 recipient of the Thompson Prize for Young Investigators from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. Dr. Grabowski received his PhD in public policy from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

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Jessica Hayes


Jessica Hayes is a Research Programmer at RAND, working primarily on the development, management and support of RAND data products created using the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study of older households in the United States. Specifically, she helps to prepare the data, create new variables, and assist in the imputation process of income and wealth variables. She also performs analysis of the RAND HRS and American Life Panel (ALP) surveys. Prior to joining RAND, Ms. Hayes received her Master of Economics from UCLA and has worked as a Research Assistant in the Household and Real Estate Finance Section of the Federal Reserve, where she analyzed the relationship of credit scores on marriage using Equifax data and maintained and improved statistical documents on mortgage rates.

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Holly Ingraham

University of California, San Francisco


Dr. Ingraham is a Professor of Cellular Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Her lab is broadly interested in the interface between hormone signaling and sex-differences in how the female brain and gut function. Using a wide-range of methods to probe the anatomy and molecular aspects contributing to sex-specific physiological responses, her lab’s research program is highly relevant to age-related diseases in hormone deficient stages and to women’s health. Dr. Ingraham is the principal investigator of numerous NIH-funded grants, a UCSF Herzstein Distinguished Investigator in Molecular Physiology, and an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In partnership with San Francisco State University, she also directs the UCSF IRACDA Scholars Program to build diversity in our nation's biomedical workforce and faculty.

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Aimee Kao

University of California, San Francisco


Aimee Kao, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. She directs the UCSF Tau Consortium Human Fibroblast and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Bank and leads the UCSF Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) Neurodegenerative Disease Biomarker Core. Dr. Kao’s clinical expertise includes the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Her basic science laboratory studies how age, stress and pH changes affect protein homeostasis and contribute to sporadic and familial neurodegenerative disorders. She has received the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Distinguished Investigator Award in Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Glenn Award for Research in the Biological Mechanisms of Aging.

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Kenneth Kosik

University of California, Santa Barbara


Kenneth S. Kosik completed a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from Case Western Reserve University in 1972 and an M.D. from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1976. He served as a resident in neurology at Tufts New England Medical Center and was Chief Resident in 1980. Beginning in 1980 he held a series of academic appointments at the Harvard Medical School and achieved the rank of full professor in 1996. In 2004, Kosik became the Harriman Professor of Neuroscience Research and Co-Director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Kosik lab approach is largely reductionist with an emphasis on genes, molecules and cells, and studies in the lab also encompass systems level informatic approaches that include large genomic and transcriptional and imaging data sets. One theme in the lab is how cells acquire and lose their identities. The lab is also interested in the underlying molecular basis of plasticity, particularly how protein translation at the synapse affects learning and how impairments of plasticity lead to neurodegenerative diseases.

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Kenneth M. Langa

University of Michigan


Dr. Langa's research focuses on the epidemiology and costs of chronic disease in older adults, with an emphasis on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. He is currently focusing on the relationship of cardiovascular risk factors to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-age and older adults. In 2007, Dr. Langa was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge where he established collaborations with an interdisciplinary research team performing cross-national comparisons of the epidemiology and outcomes of dementia in the United States and England.

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Jinkook Lee

University of Southern California and RAND


Jinkook Lee is the Director of Program on Global Aging, Health, and Policy (p2aging.org) at University of Southern California and an adjunct senior economist at RAND. She obtained her Ph.D. at the Ohio State University and previously held faculty positions at the Ohio State University and the University of Georgia. Her research agenda focuses on economics of aging, which has become increasingly interdisciplinary in recent years. She has co-led the development of two multidisciplinary, longitudinal population surveys, the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) and the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI), and currently serves as a co-PI of LASI. She also leads an international data harmonization project funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Gateway to Global Aging Data (g2aging.org), a platform for population survey data on aging from 31 countries around the world. Her current research interests include late-life cognition and dementia, the determinants of late-life health and subjective well-being, and policy effects on health and wellbeing of elderly in East Asia.

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Robert Levenson

University of California, Berkeley


Robert W. Levenson works in the areas of human psychophysiology and affective neuroscience, both of which involve studying the interplay between psychological and physiological processes. Much of his work focuses on the nature of human emotion, in terms of its physiological manifestations, variations in emotion associated with age, gender, culture, and pathology, and the role emotion plays in interpersonal interactions. Dr. Levenson's research group is currently focusing primarily on two major projects: a study of emotion and normal aging and a study of the impact of neurodegenerative diseases on emotional functioning, both supported by grants from the National Institute of Aging.

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Kathleen J. Mullen



Kathleen Mullen is a senior economist at RAND and director of the RAND Center for Disability Research; she is also associate director of the Economics, Sociology and Statistics Department and editor-in-chief of The RAND Journal of Economics, a leading peer-reviewed journal on industrial organization, regulation, and contracting. Her work addresses the economics of disability, health and retirement, with an emphasis on the incentive effects of social insurance programs such as Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). In her research, Mullen has employed a variety of research designs applying both reduced form and structural econometric methods. She has pursued research on, among other things, the effects of SSDI receipt on labor supply; the effects of long waiting times on the subsequent labor force participation and earnings of rejected SSDI applicants; how changes in eligibility requirements affect SSDI or Social Security claiming; and the effects of changes in Social Security or disability insurance incentives in other countries on labor supply for workers at older ages, and what those findings suggest about potential evaluations of reforms in the United States. Mullen received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago.

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Drystan Phillips

University of Southern California and RAND


Drystan Phillips is the Assistant Director of the Program on Global Aging, Health, and Policy at the USC Center for Economic and Social Research. With a background in applied economics and labor and population research, Phillips is an experienced programmer. His research interests include the process of aging across different cultures and countries, the interplay of genetics, environment, and behavior on longevity, and the opportunities and challenges of multidisciplinary, representative, longitudinal survey data. His most recent project investigates the consequences and benefits of different imputation methods for addressing the issues of missing values in survey data. Phillips has helped develop and helps maintain the Gateway to Global Aging Data.

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John Phillips



Dr. John W. R. Phillips serves as Chief of the Population and Social Processes Branch (PSP) of the NIA Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR). During a career spanning over 20 years, John has worked to produce research and data resources on aging related topics. Prior to joining BSR in 2018, John was Associate Commissioner for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics at the US Social Security Administration, one of the 13 principal federal statistical agencies charged with producing research and data to inform policy-makers and the public about the nation’s retirement and disability programs. He previously served in other research roles in the federal government including Health Scientist Administrator for NIA, as well as Research Economist and Director of the Office of Policy Research at SSA. John received a PhD in Economics from Syracuse University. His research examined aging issues ranging from retirement security, intergenerational transfers, and distributional effects of retirement and disability programs. Both his pre-doctoral research and his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania were funded by NIA. John’s current portfolio at NIA focuses on the economics of aging and the development of international comparators to the US Health and Retirement Study to support aging research.

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Roland Thorpe

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Roland J. Thorpe Jr. holds joint appointments in medicine and in neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is an associate professor of health, behavior and society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He serves as the director of the Program for Research on Men's Health at the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. Dr. Thorpe’s research focuses on racial and socioeconomic health disparities, particularly among U.S. men.

He received his B.S. from Florida A&M University. He earned his M.S. and his Ph.D. from Purdue University. Dr. Thorpe is a member of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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