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Dr. Mariana Dangiolo recently received one of five Learning Institute for Elders (LIFE) Richard Tucker Gerontology Awards for 2014.This year’s $4,000 supports “Bridging the Gap,” in-home geriatric assessments by medical students aimed at improving the health and quality of life for seniors.

Many seniors are reluctant to give up their independence, preferring to stay in their own homes as long as possible. But they run the risk of social isolation and undetected health issues by living alone. Dr. Dangiolo said “Bridging the Gap” will connect medical students with seniors living in the community with the goal of providing a geriatric clinical experience to medical students while extending basic clinical care, patient education and social opportunities to selected seniors.

Dr. Dangiolo is the director of the geriatrics and palliative care curriculum at the College of Medicine,  is board-certified in family medicine and geriatric care, and cares for patients at UCF Pegasus Health.

“I feel humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award for the second time. I have deep respect for Dr. Richard Tucker who is an inspiration in the gerontology field,” she said. “No matter which road our medical graduates take, from pediatrics to orthopedics, it is critical they become prepared to recognize the needs of the fastest growing age group in America, and “Bridging the Gap” will provide students with a great opportunity to do so. ”

LIFE is a UCF organization that provides community educational programs for lifelong learning opportunities for people of retirement age. To date, LIFE has contributed over $500,000 to UCF departments through its grant programs. In 2012, Dr. Dangiolo received an award to support the integration of geriatric content into the medical school’s Anatomy Lab. “We are pleased to support the College of Medicine’s integration of geriatric education into the medical training experience,” said Dr. Tucker, one of the founding members of LIFE and for which the award is named.

Dr. Dangiolo’s team includes Andrea Berry, director of faculty development, Laurel Gorman, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology, and Xin Yan, Ph.D., professor in statistics. They will oversee medical students who will conduct home visits to collect information on the health of selected seniors so that primary care physicians can be notified of health conditions and medication adjustments.

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