Harris to receive GSA’s 2017 Joseph T. Freeman Award


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation's largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Tamara Harris, MD, FGSA, of the National Institute on Aging as the recipient of the 2017 of the Joseph T. Freeman Award.

This honor, given annually, is a lectureship in geriatrics and is awarded to a prominent physician in the field of aging — both in research and practice — who is a member of the Society's Health Sciences section. It was established in 1977 through a bequest from a patient's estate as a tribute to a leading physician and one of the Society's distinguished members and past presidents.

The award presentation will take place at GSA's 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 18 to 22 in Boston, Massachusetts. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process.

At the National Institute on Aging, Harris is the senior investigator in the Intramural Research Program and section chief of Interdisciplinary Studies of Aging in the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences.

Harris gained renown as the founding principal investigator of the Health, Aging and Body Composition (ABC) Study, an epidemiologic cohort study that began in 1996. Its premise was that the path to disability was through obesity related health conditions and sarcopenia, which were quantified through detailed measures of body composition, performance based measures of function and clinically reviewed and adjudicated clinical health outcomes. Over the past 20 years, through her leadership, the study has been prolific in identifying key pathways and contributors for disability in older adults. Health ABC has defined the importance of the body fat compartments, especially visceral and muscle fat for inflammation and disability. It has quantified the relatively strong role of fat mass for disability, as compared to muscle mass and demonstrated the importance of early loss of mobility for future disability and mortality. These and many, many other findings place Harris and many co-investigators among the world's most highly cited scientists.

She also is a GSA fellow, which is the highest level of membership within the Society.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

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