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Alexia Torke named associate director of Indiana University Center for Aging Research

IU School of Medicine • 3/10/14

INDIANAPOLIS — Alexia Torke, M.D., M.S., has been named associate director of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.

Dr. Torke is a Regenstrief Institute investigator, an associate professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and fellowship director of the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics.

IU-CAR was established in 1997 as a collaboration between Indiana University, the IU School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute to conduct interdisciplinary research that engages the scientific, provider, patient and lay communities. Its mission is to develop and test innovative strategies to improve the quality of health care and self-care of older adults. Models of care developed at IU-CAR have been disseminated nationally and internationally.

Dr. Torke’s own research amplifies the typical narrow focus on the cognitively impaired older adult to include surrogate decision-makers as well as the larger health care team. She studies patients’ end-of-life care preferences, clinical medical ethics and decision-making by patient surrogates.

She is the principal investigator of two National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health-funded studies “Surrogate/Clinician Communication: The Family Inpatient Communication Survey” and “Surrogate Decision Making for Hospitalized Older Adults.”

“Dr. Torke’s research is groundbreaking because, with regard to medical decision-making, it expands our vision beyond a narrow focus on the impaired older adult to include an expanded view of the patient and the surrogate decision-makers as well as the larger health care team,” said Christopher M. Callahan, M.D. The founding director of IU-CAR, he is a Regenstrief Institute investigator and Cornelius and Yvonne Pettinga Professor at the IU School of Medicine. “Her work also highlights the stress and physical toll associated with surrogate decision-making, including the complexities of navigating the health care system. Her work builds new bridges across clinical disciplines and research areas.”

IU-CAR is home to the IU Edward R. Roybal Center for Translation Research on Chronic Disease Self-Management Among Vulnerable Older Adults. One of only 13 National Institute on Aging-funded Roybal Centers nationwide, the IU Roybal Center seeks to improve self-management among vulnerable older adults by primary care physicians.

Dr. Torke graduated from Carleton College magna cum laude and received an M.D. degree from IU School of Medicine. She completed a residency in primary care-internal medicine at Emory University and a fellowship in primary care health services research and ethics at the University of Chicago where she also earned an M.S. degree in health studies. She joined the Regenstrief and IU faculties in 2007.

“Dr. Torke is an absolutely superb physician, researcher, and mentor and will bring her enormous experience and wisdom to IU-CAR,” said Paul R, Helft, M.D., director of the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethic and associate professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine.