Holly Holmes, MD, MS, a renowned geriatrician passionate about eldercare, has been named vice president of community engagement for UTHealth Houston.
Holmes grew up with the matriarch of the family — her grandmother — an experience that shaped the direction of her career.
“Living with my grandmother most likely had something to do with why I love older people so much,” Holmes said. “Taking care of older patients and their families as they navigate complicated health issues has always been fulfilling to me. Their rich stories drive what is going on with their health.”
It was this passion that drove Holmes to pursue her clinical and research fellowship in geriatric medicine at the University of Chicago, which would lead her to teaching and hospital appointments at Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and finally UTHealth Houston in 2015 as professor and director of the division of geriatrics and palliative medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
“When I saw that UTHealth Houston was putting resources behind building a world-class program to advance the care of seniors, I knew it was exactly where I wanted and needed to be,” Holmes said.
As the newly named vice president of community engagement for UTHealth Houston, Holmes will have the opportunity to amplify this geriatrics program, as well as other unique initiatives across the university.
“I’m looking forward to being the megaphone to help convey all the exciting advancements we are making on every front and supporting the already robust community engagement efforts we have in place,” Holmes said. “What I’m most excited about is imparting UTHealth Houston’s medical expertise, our team approach, compassion, and our responsiveness to the needs of families into the communities we serve.”
One of the first items on Holmes’ to-do list as vice president of community engagement is to tour all six schools to grasp what each is doing, and the many innovative patient and research projects underway.
“I look forward to deepening my knowledge about UTHealth Houston so we can continue to identify how best to match up the needs of our patients with our services,” Holmes said. “As a world-class institution, we are on the cutting edge of health care, and I look forward to bringing that to the forefront.”
She also will work closely with the university’s philanthropic donors and the development board — a group she finds particularly inspiring for their incredible dedication to the mission of UTHealth Houston.
As she steps into her new leadership role, Holmes will continue to serve as a mentor to junior faculty, geriatric fellows, medical students, and graduate pharmacy school students — another part of her job that she finds exceptionally rewarding.
“I thoroughly enjoy watching students who once worked with me in the clinic create their own paths and go on to achieve incredible things — especially in the field of geriatrics and palliative care,” Holmes said.
She is keenly interested in developing the next generation of geriatricians and palliative care specialists because, as it stands today, there are not enough to meet the growing demand, especially as the population continues to age.
“Currently in the U.S., there are about 3 geriatricians per 10,000 people over age 75, which is why we must train the next generation of geriatricians and gerontologists,” she said.
In addition to her roles as professor, mentor, doctor, and ambassador, Holmes is a sought-after subject matter expert. She is routinely invited as a guest to discuss aging and elderhood on talk radio shows, most notably on National Public Radio and Sirius XM.
“I enjoy sharing my expertise in this way and encourage those I mentor to seek similar opportunities to share their knowledge,” she said.
Holmes has become a fixture both on and off campus. The community may have seen her image on a bus or billboard as part of the Many Faces of UTHealth Houston marketing campaign, an experience that brought her immense joy.
“Being a part of the UTHealth Houston community is an honor and a privilege. I look forward to what is on the horizon for this incredible group of physicians, researchers, students, and nurses and the incredible impact they will continue to make on our patients and their families for many years to come,” she said.
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