Scholar, Citizen, Scientist
The Gerontological Society of America honors USC College psychologist Margaret GatzBy Wayne Lewis
July 1, 2006
The Gerontological Society of America has selected USC College psychologist Margaret Gatz as the 2006 recipient of the Donald P. Kent Award.
The annual honor is given to GSA members who display the highest standards for professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society.
This prestigious recognition confirms Gatz as a groundbreaker in her field.
“I am deeply honored,” said Gatz, who also holds appointments in the USC Davis School of Gerontology and Keck School of Medicine. “I’ve always seen the GSA honors as being important in telling me something about the field of aging, and I’m humbled to be included amongst the names on the list of winners.”
Gatz will receive the award at GSA’s meeting in November 2006. Her primary project, the Study of Dementia in Swedish Twins, explores risk and protective factors for Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases, and attempts to distinguish genetic elements from environmental ones.
The goal of the research is to provide better advice to the public about lifestyle changes that may reduce the chances of developing dementia.
The twin study is funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Environmental and Health Sciences, and National Cancer Institute
Gatz also serves as coordinator of the College’s graduate program in clinical psychology and aging, one of a handful of programs of its kind nationwide.
Gatz is a fellow of the GSA, the oldest and largest national multidisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research. She will deliver the Kent Award Lecture at the 2007 GSA annual meeting.
The GSA previously recognized Gatz with its 1997 Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award. Last year the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Aging gave her its Award for the Advancement of Psychology and Aging.
The GSA’s Kent Award was named in 1973 in memory of Donald P. Kent, a pioneering gerontologist and advocate for older adults, and the first director of the White House Office of Aging, under the Kennedy Administration.
University Professor Caleb Finch, who holds appointments in gerontology, biology and psychology, knew Kent personally.
“Don would have been very proud that Margy got this award,” said Finch, holder of the ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging. “She exemplifies his spirit and his energy, and general concern for the well-being of everybody around him. Margy is an exemplary scholar, citizen and scientist.”