Geriatric Research Opportunities

The Division of Geriatrics offers rich clinical research opportunities to staff, fellows, residents, and students. Dr. Jane F. Potter and Dr. Brenda K. Keller have served as research mentors for trainees at all levels.

  • The Geriatric Assessment Clinic at UNMC has been the source of a comprehensive clinical database on geriatric functional status, physical and emotional well-being, social interactions as well as severity and etiology of dementia. It contains over 2,000 subjects and 1,600 variables.
  • Within this database is additional in-depth information about vision changes in aging and dementia. The Geriatric Assessment Clinic database has been the source of multiple abstracts and more than 15 research manuscripts.
    An additional database of outpatient geriatric continuity patients focuses on screening for functional disability in the general elderly population.
  • Research trainees may also explore other geriatric topics of their own interest.
  • Students, Residents and Fellows interested in research opportunities at the University Geriatric Center may email Dr. Keller at


  • The effectiveness of functional screening follow-up in an outpatient geriatrics clinic.
  • Comorbid illness and survival in persons with dementia.
  • Impact of telehealth education in rural nursing home staff care of residents with dementia.
  • Mobile monitoring of functional behaviors in ambulatory patients.


Stephen J. Bonasera, MD, PhD; 559-8409

  • Age-related changes in mouse and human functional behavior (eating, drinking, physical activity)
  • Age-related changes in mouse and human regional CNS gene expression and regulation 
  • Advanced approaches for behavioral phenotyping in mice
  • Advanced approached to measure functional behaviors in ambulatory human populations and use this information for stratification and risk identification of older community dwelling persons 
  • Identification of genetic loci that influence age-related changes in behavior
  • Age-related dysregulation of CNS signaling networks
  • Basic biological mechanisms underlying delirium in mice
  • Novel neuropsychological-based approaches for community screening of cognitive disorders

Recent representative papers include:

  • Stereotypy
  • Mobile Monitoring Proof-of-Principle 
  • Gait Validation

Brenda Keller, MD; 559-7519

  • The relationship of ambient lighting to use of antidepressants and antipsychotics in nursing home residents.
  • Telemedicine as a venue for interdisciplinary teaching of dementia care to rural nursing home staff.
  • Retrospective Data Analysis of the Geriatric Assessment Database to Explore Factors Related to Function and Disability in Older Outpatients.
  • Perceptions of physicians and nursing staff on the availability and quality of mental health services in rural nursing facilities.  

SPECIALIZED LABORATORY/CLINICAL RESEARCH RESOURCES: Tools to assess visual impairment: Pelli-Robson Chart, ETDRS-Type Charts, D-15 Color Test, Teller Acuity Cards, Pseudo-Isochromatic Plates, Stereopsis tests.

Sixty-four station mouse home cage monitoring system with associated workstations for data quality control, classification, and analysis; 4 station rodent indirect calorimetry measurement system with integrated activity monitoring; standard behavioral phenotyping equipment including 4 chamber open field, elevated zero maze, Noldus Observer and EthoVision acquisition and analysis software; RNA purification and quantification workflow, including Qiagen TissueLyser II, Qiagen Qiacube, Thermo Nanodropper II, Agilent BioAnalyzer 2100, Eppendorf ep RealPlex RT-qPCR; Nokia N79-based cell phone data acquisition system with appropriate server software for highly secured data transmission; standard laboratory equipment (centrifuges, -80 freezer capacity, -20 freezer capacity, refrigerator capacity, electronic balances to manage milligram to gram samples, pH meter, incubators, water baths, standard molecular biology tools).

The Geriatric Clinic database contains baseline data on health, functional, cognitive and affective status on over 2500 patients. This database may be used to explore a variety of issues related to frailty and aging.