Consortium on Aging

About Us

Aging Adult

Adults aged 65 and older will account for 20% of the U.S. population by 2030 and the healthcare workforce must be ready to care for them by having sufficient numbers of providers with specialized training.

Older patients generally have multiple and complex medical needs. They react differently to medications. Their independence and quality of life are often threatened by functional impairments and memory changes. Clinical research focuses on younger adults in the 40-50 year age range, leaving a significant gap of knowledge for those 65 years of age and older.

Of the 650,000 physicians practicing in the U.S., fewer than 9,000 are geriatricians – or 2.4 geriatricians per 10,000 elderly persons. Fewer than 3% of medical students choose elective courses in geriatrics. Likewise, there is a growing demand for nurses with specialized training in caring for the elderly, as well as dentists and pharmacists who understand the unique needs of the older person.

The Consortium on Aging was established to lead UTHealth in meeting the challenge of providing quality health care for the growing elderly population in Houston. The Consortium is a university-wide collaborative effort that leverages the existing strengths and expertise of all the UTHealth schools, including the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Public Health, Biomedical Informatics, and Biomedical Sciences. Focusing on aging-related interdisciplinary care, education, research, and community outreach, the role of the Consortium is to foster collaboration among the schools and centers of UTHealth with the goals of:

  • Enhancing the geriatric knowledge and skills of healthcare students and providers and promoting coordinated, patient-focused care by interdisciplinary teams
  • Finding innovative strategies for training health care students and practicing providers in geriatrics
  • Facilitating aging-related research and the advancement of gerontology.


Together we will be the leading institute promoting healthy and meaningful aging.


Provide excellent comprehensive patient care
Educate patients, families, professionals and caregivers
Advance interdisciplinary gerontological research

Guiding Principles:

  • Interdisciplinary focus and outreach
  • University-wide integration
  • Service to a diverse community
  • Best practices of geriatric care
  • Mentoring of new gerontology faculty members
  • Collaboration with Houston agencies and organizations

Consortium Founders:

Carmel B. Dyer, MDCarmel B. Dyer, MD, FACP, AGSF, Executive Director of the Consortium on Aging, is the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Chair in Gerontology, Nancy P. & Vincent F. Guinee, M.D. Distinguished Chair, Professor in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Chief of Staff at LBJ Hospital, and Associate Dean for Harris County Programs at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. She is a 1988 graduate of Baylor College of Medicine, where she completed her residency in internal medicine and geriatrics fellowship. She founded the geriatrics programs at UTHealth Medical School in 2007 and at the Harris County Hospital District and also founded the Texas Elder Abuse and Mistreatment (TEAM) Institute. Her research and publications have been in the area of elder mistreatment. She was a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and has addressed the U.S. Senate. She has received national and local recognition for her teaching abilities and her dedication to the health care of older adults. Dr. Dyer's Curriculum Vitae.  

Sharon K. Ostwald, PhD, RNSharon K. Ostwald, PhD, RN, founding Deputy Director of the Consortium on Aging, is Professor Emerita at The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston where she held the Isla Carroll Turner Chair in Gerontological Nursing and, prior to that, the Theodore J. and Mary E. Trumble Professorship in Aging Research. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Wheaton College and a Master of Science in Public Health and PhD in Adult Education from the University of Minnesota. Prior to moving to Texas, Dr. Ostwald taught for 20 years at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and School of Nursing. She was certified by the ANA as an Adult Nurse Practitioner in 1976 and as a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner in 1993. From 1996-2004, she served as the Director of the UTHealth School of Nursing's Center on Aging. Dr. Ostwald's Curriculum Vitae. 

W. Andrew Achenbaum, PhDW. Andrew Achenbaum, PhD, current Deputy Director of the Consortium on Aging, is the Gerson and Sabina David Professor of Global Aging and Professor of Social Work and History at the University of Houston. Dr. Achenbaum received an undergraduate degree in American Studies from Amherst College and a doctorate in history from the University of Michigan. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and books, including "Older Americans: Vital Communities - Toward a Bold Vision of Societal Aging." Dr. Achenbaum's Curriculum Vitae.  

Thomas R. Cole, PhDThomas R. Cole, PhD is the McGovern Chair in Medical Humanities and Director of the John P. McGovern, MD Center for Humanities and Ethics at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. He is also a Visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Rice University. Dr. Cole graduated from Yale University (B.A. Philosophy 1971), Wesleyan University (M.A. History 1975) and the University of Rochester (PhD History 1981). He has published many articles and several books on the history of aging and humanistic gerontology. His book "The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America" was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Dr. Cole's Curriculum Vitae.

Kathleen Pace Murphy, PhDKathleen P. Murphy, PhD, MS, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center Medical School, Department Internal Medicine, Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine.  Dr. Murphy graduated from D'Youville College (BSN 1980) and Texas Woman's University (MS 1988 and PhD 1993). In 1996 she graduated from The University of Texas School of Nursing as a Geriatric/Adult Nurse Practitioner.  Dr. Murphy is a co-investigator with Dr. Dyer on the Houston Geriatric Education Center grant.  She has a geriatric primary care practice at the Center for Healthy Aging.

Administrative Staff

Joan Hernandez-McClain

Joan Hernandez-McClain, MPH is the Administrative Director of the Consortium on Aging. Joan received her BA degree in Spanish and Biology from Willamette University and her MPH from UTHealth School of Public Health. After six years in administration at the UTHealth Medical School, Department of Internal Medicine, Joan joined the Consortium on Aging in January 2015.