BOSTON — Sharon K. Inouye, M.D., M.Ph., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a faculty member in the Division of Gerontology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and director of the Aging Brain Center in the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife, was inducted into the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at its annual meeting on Oct. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.

She is a native of Culver City and daughter of Lily Ann Inouye and the late Dr. Mitsuo Inouye, a well-known family practice physician in the Los Angeles area.

Sharon Inouye

Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Unique in its structure as both an honorific membership organization and an advisory organization, the IOM was established in 1970 and is one of four distinguished organizations that make up the National Academies, which provide scientific and technological advice to the nation.

Inouye is an internationally recognized expert in aging and geriatric medicine, clinical research methods and research training, whose investigations into the recognition of and risk factors for the onset of delirium in elderly patients have influenced hospital care around the world.

The founder of a cost-effective hospital model to help health-care providers present delirium, she currently serves as director of the Successful Aging after Elective Surgery (SAGES) study, an $11 million program project on delirium funded by the National Institute on Aging.

“Dr. Inouye’s insights and commitment to better understanding delirium has pioneered a field which holds profound implications for patients and their families, as well as for the field of health care more generally,” notes Mark Zeidel, M.D., chairman of the Department of Medicine at BIDMC.

Adds Lewis Lipsitz, M,D., chief of the Division of Gerontology, which includes faculty at BIDMC  and Hebrew SeniorLife, said, “Dr. Inouye is addressing one of the most critically important medical issues in our growing elderly population. Delirium develops in over 3 million older persons in the U.S. each year, accounting for more than $100 billion of annual health-care expenditures, and may be an important, reversible precipitant of dementia. By focusing on ways to recognize and prevent delirium, we can improve the overall quality of hospital care, prevent hospital-related complications and enable our older patients to return home independently.”

Inouye received her medical degree from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and received a master’s in public health from Yale University. After completing her internship at UCSF, she completed residencies at the former Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and at UCSF Primary Care and was a postdoctoral fellow in general internal medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and in geriatrics/clinical epidemiology in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale University School of Medicine.

Prior to joining the faculty of BIDMC, Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School in 2005, Inouye spent 20 years as a faculty member at Yale, most recently as a tenured professor of medicine, director of the Yale Mentored Clinical Research Scholar Program and co-director of the Yale Program on Aging and the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center.

Inouye developed and validated a new instrument for the identification of delirium called the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), which is now translated into more than 20 languages and is the most widely used in the field. She also developed the Hospitals Elder Life Program (HELP) to prevent delirium in hospitalized patients.

Published in a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the strategy has been successful in reducing delirium in hospitalized patients by 40 percent and has been disseminated to over 200 hospitals worldwide.

Inouye has been awarded many of the highest accolades in her field, including the 2010 Edward Henderson Award from the American Geriatrics Society, National Research Award from he Alzheimer’s Association, UCLA David H. Solomon Award, Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Arnold P. Gold Foundation), Society of Distinguished Teachers of Yale University, Ewald W. Busse Research Award in Biomedical Sciences from the Gerontological Society of America, Midcareer Award from the National Institute on Aging, Donaghue Investigator Award and the American Geriatrics Society’s Outstanding Scientific Achievement for Clinical Investigation Award.

An elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association American Physicians, Inouye serves as an associate editor for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and on the editorial boards of the Annals of Internal Medicine and the American Journal of Medicine.

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