MedStar Health Welcomes Lauren Bangerter, Ph.D. as New Head of Healthy Aging Research

MedStar Health Welcomes Lauren Bangerter, Ph.D. as New Head of Healthy Aging Research

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Former Mayo Clinic and OptumLabs Gerontologist will lead MedStar Health’s new research initiative at the Health, Economics, Aging Research (H.E.A.R.) Institute, exploring ways to optimize care for older adults and complex patients.

Lauren BangerterCOLUMBIA, Md. – MedStar Health welcomes Lauren Bangerter, Ph.D. as the new scientific director of Health, Economics, and Aging Research for the MedStar Health Research Institute. Dr. Bangerter, a gerontologist and health services investigator, comes to MedStar Health to lead the research effort to explore how health systems can better manage the needs of aging patients and patients with multiple chronic conditions. Her first day was October 31, 2022. 

“I have always been drawn to the older adult population, even from childhood when I would love to listen to my grandparents and neighbors tell stories. But it was when my uncle was diagnosed with dementia that I decided to focus my career in science on addressing the needs of older adults with cognitive and functional impairment,” said Dr. Bangerter. “We can improve healthcare for aging adults and other patients with complex health needs through applied research and improvements at the point of care delivery. I am thrilled about the opportunity to continue this work with MedStar Health, alongside its excellent providers and researchers, serving one of the most diverse patient populations in the country.”

In her new role as scientific director, Dr. Bangerter will be responsible for advancing the overall strategy and growth for the MedStar H.E.A.R. Institute, which is the health system’s dedicated applied research lab focused on innovation and developing best practices for geriatric care delivery. Established through the efforts and leadership of Dana Frank, MD, chairman of medicine for MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, investigators with the H.E.A.R. Institute apply rigorous research methodology to identify better ways to care for patients who have increased healthcare needs whether due to aging or multiple chronic conditions. Their research centers around three main areas:

  1. Evaluating outcome-driven, patient-centered models of geriatric care
  2. Analyzing the economic impact of healthcare for aging patients and patients with multiple chronic conditions, their families, and the healthcare system
  3. Delivering equitable care to aging patients or patients with complex health needs in community-based settings

“My clinical goal is always to provide the best care and make sure my patients who are often navigating multiple conditions have a positive experience where they feel supported. The way we have tried to do that here is by providing personalized care organization.” said Dr. Dana Frank. “Yet applying a research lens to this work has allowed us to realize that we can do so much more beyond coordinating teams of specialists. For example, we now know we can make a meaningful impact on outcomes while also finding ways to save on the overall cost of care simply by addressing social issues that so many patients face particularly as they age, including food insecurity, loneliness, or even access to reliable transportation.”

Prior to joining MedStar Health, Dr. Bangerter led research programs for leading healthcare organizations. Most recently at OptumLabs, she served as Principal Research Scientist, Healthy Aging where she managed a team of researchers, analysts, and data scientists examining trends among the patient population eligible for Medicare. Prior to that role, Dr. Bangerter had a faculty appointment in health services research at Mayo Clinic, where she worked alongside physicians to identify and solve issues in caring for older adults and represented the health system at national and international scientific meetings.

“Aging often comes with chronic conditions but it does not need to result in a decreased quality of life. Through research and leaders like Dr. Bangerter, we can work to can advance the overall wellbeing of our patients even in the face of inevitable challenges of growing older.” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Bangerter to the Research Institute and look forward to working with her on this important area of exploration.”

Dr. Bangerter’s scholarly work has focused on promoting high-quality care and developing psychosocial interventions for older adults, particularly those with physical and cognitive decline. She has a strong record of securing federal and foundation grants to support her research, has published more than 50 academic papers, and serves as a journal reviewer for leading academic journals in gerontology. In recent years, she was honored as a Society of Behavioral Medicine Champion (2020) and served as a Health and Aging Policy Fellow (2018-2019) where she supported the implementation of federal legislation to support family caregivers through a placement at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Originally from Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Bangerter earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Arizona State University and her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University. Residing just outside of Minneapolis, Minn., with her family, Dr. Bangerter enjoys gardening and running outdoors. She will primarily work remotely with onsite visits to MedStar Health sites scheduled quarterly.

Learn more about research at MedStar Health.