Dr. Sharon K. Inouye is the Director of the Aging Brain Center at the Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds the Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair and is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center). Her research focuses on delirium and functional decline in hospitalized older patients, resulting in more than 200 peer-reviewed original articles to date. Currently, she is the overall principal investigator of the Successful AGing after Elective Surgery (SAGES) study, an $11 million Program Project on delirium funded by the National Institute on Aging, as well as 5 other active research projects. The purpose of the SAGES study is to examine the interface of delirium and dementia, whether delirium alters the course of dementia, and whether delirium leads to longstanding cognitive impairment and pathologic changes in the brain. Dr. Inouye is committed to improving health and quality of life for older persons and their families.
Dr. Inouye developed and validated the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), the most widely-used instrument for the identification of delirium. She conceptualized the multifactorial model for delirium, which focuses on identification of predisposing and precipitating factors for delirium. Her work involves translating theories of clinical investigation into practical applications that directly improve the quality of life for older adults. She developed the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), a multicomponent intervention strategy designed to prevent delirium by targeting six delirium risk factors. HELP was successful in reducing delirium by 40 percent and was published in a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study was the first to show that a substantial proportion of delirium is preventable. Additionally, HELP has been shown to reduce falls, functional decline, and hospital costs, and to improve patient, family, and nursing satisfaction. The HELP program has been adopted by over 200 hospitals worldwide.
Dr. Inouye has been awarded many of the highest accolades in her field, and in 2011 she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. She was previously awarded the American Geriatrics Society Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award (1998), the Donaghue Investigator Award (1998-2003), a Midcareer Award from the National Institute on Aging (1999-2005), election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation (2002), the Ewald W. Busse Research Award in Biomedical Sciences (Gerontological Society of America, 2003), the UCLA David H. Solomon Award (2005), the 2005 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Arnold P. Gold Foundation), election to the Yale Society of Distinguished Teachers (2005), election to the Association of American Physicians (AAP) (2007), the Pinnacle Award from the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the 2010 Edward Henderson Award for the American Geriatrics Society, and the 2013 Clifford A. Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School. Her work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1991.
Dr. Inouye was previously at Yale University School of Medicine from 1985 to 2005, where she was a tenured professor of medicine, director of the Yale Mentored Clinical Research Scholars Program (K12), co-director of the Yale Program on Aging and Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, director of the Yale Mentorship Program in Patient-Oriented Research on Aging, and director of Patient-Oriented Research for the Yale Investigative Medicine Program (K30).