USC Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias presented the inaugural Pearmain Prize in Research on Aging to Kyriakos S. Markides — a leading scholar on aging and health issues — at USC Town & Gown on Feb. 16 as part of a celebration of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.
Sponsored by the USC School of Social Work, which houses the interdisciplinary institute, the event was co-hosted by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. The institute is named for her father, the late Edward R. Roybal, who served in Congress for 30 years and was a national leader in establishing services for the aging.
“My father’s interest in the needs of minority aging persons, his sensitivity to the consequences of poor health and poor housing, his long period of political leadership and his special presence on the local and national stage as a person of Latino heritage have left a profound legacy,” she said. “I have no doubt the expertise reflected in the scholars who are here today will benefit the aging, especially those who have been most marginalized or ignored.”
Referring to William Vega, the institute’s newly appointed executive director, Roybal-Allard added, “We are very proud that the university has been able to recruit one of our nation’s greatest Latino scholars to lead the Roybal Institute.”
Vega spoke about the institute’s mission to explore the social, cultural, economic and environmental factors that influence aging. “Aging is not equal for all,” he explained. “Socially and economically vulnerable individuals will age at a dramatically faster rate than the rest of the population.”
He also outlined three core areas of focus: discovery research about environmental, biological and social conditions affecting aging disparities; implementation research to transfer knowledge into optimal practices; and policy research for sustainable improvements in quality of life of vulnerable elders.
The event concluded with the presentation of the Pearmain Prize to Markides, the Annie and John Gnitzinger Distinguished Professor of Aging and director of the Division of Sociomedical Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, at the University of Texas in Galveston. The editor of the Journal of Aging and Health, he has authored or co-authored more than 280 publications.
“I hope you realize what an incredible tradition in the field of aging [USC has had] for many years,” said Markides, who discussed his long-standing research on aging and health issues in the Mexican-American population.
Other speakers at the event were Marilyn Flynn, dean of the USC School of Social Work, and Jack H. Knott, the C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Dean of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, which houses the new National Institutes of Health-sponsored Roybal Center on Translational Science and Aging.
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