The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has named Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., as Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Research (BSR). The appointment became effective September 13.
In announcing the selection, NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D., cited Dr. Suzman's broad background in social and behavioral science research. "We welcome his scholarly and creative thinking to a leadership role at the NIA," Hodes said.
Dr. Suzman comes to the post following a distinguished career in social and behavioral science, specifically in the demography and economics of aging. Most recently, as chief of NIA's Demography and Population Epidemiology Unit, Director of the Office of the Demography of Aging, and architect of NIA's Economics of Aging program, Dr. Suzman's efforts have made the Institute a focal point for demographic research across the federal government and internationally. His dedication to excellence in demographic and statistical studies has led the way in the development of relevant and reliable national surveys on aging. These studies, including the Health and Retirement Study, the Longitudinal Study of Aging, and the National Long Term Care Survey, are breaking new ground in our understanding of the health, demographic, and economic aspects of aging. Dr. Suzman also has served as staff director for the Federal Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, which is charged with ensuring the quality of statistical efforts government-wide.
Dr. Suzman has led the development of the biodemography of aging, an interdisciplinary approach to research on longevity that brings together demographers and other researchers in the social sciences with their counterparts in the biological and life sciences. Joining these scientific fields will enhance understanding of increases in life expectancy and healthy aging.
In the past two years, Dr. Suzman also has been at the forefront of a number of initiatives recognizing the growing importance of population aging worldwide. He played a key role in shaping the discussion of population aging at the June 1997 Denver Summit of the Eight industrialized nations, which highlighted the "challenges and opportunities" of an aging world and called for the development of an international research agenda. In addition, Dr. Suzman has been working actively with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to help define issues raised by global aging and to respond to the call for increased cross national research.
Dr. Suzman is also the author or editor of a number of publications in the demographics and economics of aging, including a major work, The Oldest Old, which he edited.
Prior to coming to the NIA in 1985, Dr. Suzman held academic research positions at the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford University.
After studying at Witwatersrand University in his native South Africa, Dr. Suzman received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. In graduate work, he received a diploma in social anthropology from Oxford University and masters and doctoral degrees in social psychology from Harvard University. Dr. Suzman was also a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.
The NIA's behavioral and social research program is an important component of a total program to look at diseases, problems, and needs of an aging society. The Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, supports and conducts basic, biomedical, clinical, social, and behavioral research on a variety of aspects of aging. The NIA leads the federal effort in research on Alzheimer's disease, frailty, and other conditions threatening the quality of life for older people and their families.