“Of Uncertainty and Hope, a Lesson from My Patients” was the title of the Joseph T. Freeman Lecture delivered by Dr. Luigi Ferrucci at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) meeting in November 2012. The annual Freeman lecture in geriatrics is presented by the previous year’s winner of the Joseph T. Freeman Award, which GSA gives to a prominent physician in the field of aging—both in research and practice—who is a member of the Society's Health Sciences section.
Dr. Jack Guralnik, former chief of NIA’s Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, introduced Dr. Ferrucci, noting his work as principal investigator of the InChianti project in Italy, director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, editor of the Journal of Gerontology, and, most recently, scientific director of the NIA.
In his lecture, Dr. Ferrucci described the “interconnectedness” of geriatrics. He noted that changes associated with aging—such as body composition, imbalance in energy production and utilization, homeostatic dysregulation, and neurodegeneration—can lead to geriatric syndromes of physical and cognitive frailty, resulting in a number of health problems ranging from falls and disability to sleep disorders and cognitive impairment. He concluded, “A geriatrician needs to be a fantastic doctor and then realize that this is not enough.”