Rosalie Wolf Award: Dr. Mark Lachs (2009-2010)
Dr. Mark Lachs is the most highly respected physician researcher in the area of elder abuse and neglect in the world. His innovative studies have completely changed how we think about this societal problem. Similar to how pediatricians were unaware of child abuse until seminal studies from the early 1960's made this part of every pediatric residency in the country, Dr. Lachs’ work has had a similar effect. He is the principal investigator of the largest longitudinal study of elder abuse ever conducted, peer-reviewed and funded by the National Institutes on Aging.
His work is published widely in the most respected medical journals in the US and abroad, including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Lancet. His scientific endeavors have demonstrated that elder abuse victims are at much higher risk for death and disability, even after adjusting for chronic diseases. He has advised many august bodies on this topic including the World Health Organization and the United Nations. He has testified before the Congress, state government, and international bodies on this and other topics related to aging.
Researchers and physicians in training from throughout the world seek him out as a mentor. Dr. Lachs often mentors such individuals, despite the responsibility and time commitment involved, because of his dedication to the field of elder abuse and his devotion to teaching. Indeed, Dr. Lachs is building an enormous legacy by training a cadre of physicians to heed the calling of geriatric medicine. He mentors geriatric fellows and residents encountering clinical cases of elder abuse on the physician’s role in detecting, assessing and intervening in cases in community, in-patient and nursing home settings. He has written practical articles for physicians advising on how to address elder abuse in clinical practice and contributed to the AMA’s guidelines and the Merck Manual of Geriatrics on the subject.
Dr. Lachs has garnered the trust and admiration of social service agencies throughout NYC, who have traditionally viewed academic medical centers as poorly integrated into their communities. He was awarded the Carter S. Burden Humanitarian Award in Aging, recognizing him for his community work in geriatric medicine. His long-standing involvement in the field of elder abuse and his strong community ties made him a natural leader for the development of the NYC Elder Abuse Center, which will commence operations later in 2009. For these reasons, he has the trust of the practice community, which has greatly enhanced his research.
Dr. Lachs has made contributions in elder abuse not only to his local community, but also throughout the US and around the world. Thus, countless abused elders have already benefited from his work, and many others will as well for a long time to come.