Dr. Sara J. Czaja Steps Down to Direct New Aging Center at Weill Cornell Medicine

After nearly 30 years at the University of Miami, Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center on Aging in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, is stepping down.

From left, Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D., Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., and David Loewenstein, Ph.D., at the first Center on Aging poster session in 2016.

Czaja has accepted a position as professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and director of the new Center on Aging and Behavioral Research at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Miller School Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said, “Losing Dr. Czaja has been very tough. In nearly 30 years at UM, she significantly influenced not only the Center on Aging, which she expertly led, but also the field of mental health. Her thoughtful, yet scientifically aggressive approach to research has led to the further development and advancement of numerous cognitive therapies and technologies for the aging population. She is an absolute joy to work with, an inspiring scientist, and a true role model for young investigators. Cornell is extremely lucky to have her.”

During her time at the Miller School, Czaja developed and implemented numerous innovative programs focused on aging and cognition, human/computer interaction and functional assessment. She conducted novel research in aging and technology, securing millions of dollars in NIH grants.

One of those NIH grants helped create the Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE), a collaboration among the Miller School, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Florida State University. Funded by the National Institute on Aging for nearly 20 years, CREATE has focused on making technology more accessible, useful, and usable for older adult populations. In her new position, Czaja will bring Cornell into the collaboration, enhancing the program with even more experts and making an impact on the lives of a greater number of people in more places.

David Loewenstein, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will become director of the Center on Aging, which will be renamed the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Aging. The new center will develop state-of-the art strategies for studying the aging brain and identifying biomarkers of early disease processes.

Jared Abramson, vice chair for administration and finance in the department, said, “We have witnessed how Dr. Czaja’s pioneering research and technological innovations have revolutionized the field of aging and caregiving. Her contributions are undeniable, and her commitment to improving quality of life for the elderly is deeply admirable. I am honored to count her among both my colleagues and my friends, and we will all miss her tremendously.”

Czaja will be appointed an emeritus professor at UM.