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Internationally Recognized Harvard Researcher Sue Levkoff Named SeniorSMART™ Endowed Chairs

June 2, 2010

As more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, the senior population is expected to grow by 133 percent between 2000 and 2030, which will result in a growing demand for the senior health marketplace. This makes the recent recruitment of renowned researcher Sue Levkoff, ScD, SM, MSW, as the first SMartState Endowed Chair in the Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC)-supported SeniorSMART™ Center perfectly timed. Levkoff is an internationally recognized researcher who will focus on developing technology and social support networks to help older adults maximize their i dependence and quality of life.

Levkoff will serve as the eSmartState Endowed Chair in Community and Social Support, leading the SMARTHome component for the SeniorSMART CoEE. She will be based at the University of South Carolina (USC). Her recruitment was made possible by the generosity of Columbia, SC, businessman and philanthropist, Charlton Hall. Hall is owner of Charlton Hall Galleries, Inc., one of the nation’s leading auction houses for fine arts and antiques. His gift of $5 million to the SeniorSMART Center will allow researchers like Dr. Levkoff to further technologies that help senior citizens enjoy a higher quality of life.

Levkoff comes to South Carolina from Harvard University where she authored and contributed to many publications on aging, was a frequent presenter at aging conferences, and has received sizable federal grants from funding institutions such as the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association. She has already been actively involved in helping USC secure federal dollars from the National Institutes of Health. Levkoff also is bringing a healthcare technology company to the state called Environment and Health. The company will focus on developing several new products, including online communities for dementia patient caregivers and health-risk appraisal tools designed to enhance positive health behavior and reduce Medicare costs.

Dr. Levkoff joins SeniorSMART director, Dr. Paul Eleazer,and researchers Dr. Victor Hirth and Dr. Deb Krotish, who have begun developing and testing a floor monitoring system that will be used to reduce falls in older adults and shorten response times when a fall has occurred. Levkoff noted this research product not only has commercial potential, but also has direct implications for improving quality of life in older adults.

HSSC member organizations involved in the SeniorSMART research include Clemson University, Greenville Health System, the Medical University of South Carolina, Palmetto Health, and USC.

Commenting on Levkoff’s recruitment, HSSC President and CEO Jay Moskowitz said, “We believe SeniorSMART and its research is a wise investment in the health of older adults, and equally important, family members who want their loved ones to live as independently as possible and enjoy a high-functioning quality of life. We celebrate the naming of SeniorSMART’s first endowed chair, Dr. Sue Levkoff, a highly talented and internationally recognized researcher. We’re proud to have her here in South Carolina.”

Born and raised in South Carolina. Levkoff considers herself a South Carolinian even after spending three decades in other states. “I am excited to come back to South Carolina and give back to the state. What is happening in South Carolina through the SmartState Program shows great vision and understanding that no one sector can do it alone. Only by coming together through academia, healthcare systems, government and business, can we fully understand the needs of older adults.”

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