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Successful Aging

Developing new insights and strategies to help New Mexican older adults live independently and longer.

Supporting our Growing Senior Population

By 2030, the population over age 64 in New Mexico is expected to double, rising from 39th in 2010 to 4th in the nation.

Helping New Mexicans Remain Independent Longer

The Successful Aging Grand Challenge focuses on researching ways to compress the ‘period of disability’ of our aging NM  population, shifting the threshold of functional status so a person can remain independent longer to successfully age in place at home.

The Successful Aging Grand Challenge will work to create solutions on the expected demand on our diverse communities and healthcare systems by researching methods to: 

  • Expand programs and services for vulnerable populations,
  • Support independent living,
  • Create lifelong education opportunities,
  • Innovate technology to support senior autonomy, and
  • Promote healthy aging processes.

To achieve our research goals, we have four research thrusts: science and technology; organizational innovation and effectiveness; diverse, multigenerational community engagement; and economic development.

The Successful Aging Grand Challenge engages researchers, students, and staff from multi-disciplinary research, as well as community engagement organizations.

Contact Information

Please contact the Successful Aging Grand Challenge team by email at

Leadership Team: Debra Waters, PhD, Research Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, GIM/Geriatrics; Janice Knoefel, MD, MPH, Professor, Internal Medicine, Neurology, School of Medicine; Christophe Lambert, PhD, Professor, Internal Medicine, Center for Global Health, Division of Translational Informatics; Mark A. McCormick, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Ann L. Gibson, PhD, Professor, Exercise Science; Paul Nathanson, JD, Special Counsel, Justice in Aging.

Upcoming Events

The Successful Aging team is the local organizing committee for an international conference on frailty and sarcopenia (ICFSR) that will be held in at the Hotel Albuquerque Old Town March 20-22, 2024. Learn more here.

Preliminary Research Questions

As New Mexico ages, it is important that we understand the needs of our diverse population, especially in our culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Our team is conducting research to help older adults stay healthy longer by involvement in meaningful and healthy community activities. The state’s senior and community centers will play a vital role in social and physical activity.  Organizational innovation and effectiveness will improve access to to health care resources and services for older adults.

Technologies can enhance mobility, improve social connectedness, and decrease admission to hospitals. With the use of wearable and assistive technologies, older adults and caregivers can be in charge at home.

We will explore ways for New Mexico to foster economic growth in medical and healthcare sectors, to efficiently expand all levels of professional services supporting our aging population and innovate other economic activities secondarily related to healthcare and service industries.

The Successful Aging Grand Challenge team is pleased to announce the funding of four pilot research projects. These projects are directly related to Successful Aging’s main theme of compressing disability by addressing our identified research priority areas: science & technology; organizational innovation and effectiveness; engaging multigenerational and diverse communities; and economic development.

These pilot research projects have strong scientific merit and are highly likely to be successful in generating pilot data for extramural funding. The projects involve multiple investigators, practitioners and educators from UNM’s main and HSC campuses and engage diverse community partners.

Cultural Characteristics of Successful Aging from a Diné Perspective: The Significance of Diné Elder Knowledge in “Achieving Long Life- Happiness” as Community Well-Being

  • PI: Vincent Werito, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies
  • Co-PI: Lorenda Belone, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences, College of Education
  • Community Research Team members: Bernice Sage, Sherry Begay, Elroy Keetso, Patrick Werito

Intergenerational support among Vietnamese Residents and Service Usage Among Aging Asian New Mexicans

  • PI: Jacqueline A. Miller, PhD Senior Research Scientist, Center for Geospatial and Population Studies
  • Co-I: Scott D. Hughes, PhD, Research Scientist, Cradle to Career Policy Institute and Center for Geospatial and Population Studies
  • Co-I: Christina O’Connell, MSN, Director, UNMH Southeast Heights Clinic
  • Co-I: Adélamar N. Alcántara, PhD Director, Center for Geospatial and Population Studies.

Individualized Targeting and Neuromodulation of Late-Life Depression

  • Co-PI: Davin Quinn, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Co-PI: Christopher Abbott, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Rhythm and Timing Exercises, Cognitive Functioning, and Fall Risk in Older Community Dwelling Adults

  • PI: Steven Verney, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Co-PI: Lisa Cacari Stone, PhD, Associate Professor, College of Population Health
  • Alexis Burks, MS, doctoral student in the UNM Department of Psychology

Congratulations to the investigators, and thank you for your continued commitment and creativity in this important Successful Aging Grand Challenge!

If you have questions, contact:

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