Division of Geriatrics at Howard University Hospital

The Division of Geriatrics at Howard University Hospital offers a unique multidisciplinary approach across the continuum of care to conditions related to aging.

Our geriatrics care – and the research we conduct to improve treatment options – has been recognized for excellence:

  • Acknowledged by U.S.News & World Report as a superior provider of medical care to seniors in 2012
  • Rated as one of the best providers of multidisciplinary care to seniors in the District of Columbia
  • Recognized as a worldwide leader in research on cognitive aging and cardiovascular disease, and how the two are related.

Conditions and Services

Specialists in the Division of Geriatrics are dedicated to the highly specialized care and compassion required for senior patients.


We provide specialty geriatric services for many conditions, including:

  • Acute confusion and delirium
  • Dementia
  • Complex medical conditions
  • Failure to thrive
  • Falls (prevention)
  • Memory loss
  • Other age-related conditions
  • Polypharmacy (use of multiple medications)
  • Poor nutrition

Specialty Centers

Our specialty centers for aging individuals include the Hayes Ward 6 Senior Wellness Center and two nursing homes.

Hayes Senior Wellness Center

The mission of the Hayes Ward 6 Senior Wellness Center is to promote physical, social and emotional well-being of seniors through comprehensive programs and activities such as physical exercise, nutrition education and counseling, health education, health promotion, medication management and smoking cessation.

Programs offered at the Hayes Ward 6 Senior Wellness Center include:

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cataract and glaucoma screenings
  • Computer classes
  • Crochet lessons
  • Daily lunch
  • Dental screening
  • Hand dancing
  • Art and Craft including jewelry making
  • Line dancing
  • Massage therapy
  • Medication brown bag
  • Memory screening
  • Nutrition education and cooking
  • Trips
  • Weight lifting
  • Yoga
  • Spanish language

Nursing Homes

Our affiliated nursing homes are 5-star rated and provide superior residential medical and rehabilitative care to seniors in the District of Columbia, including skilled medical and nursing care, long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, nutrition, recreation and counseling.

These nursing homes are:

  • Stoddard Baptist at Washington Center for Aging Services
  • Unique residential nursing care at JB Johnson

Division of Geriatrics Faculty

Board-certified geriatrics specialists at Howard University and other health care professionals are dedicated to patient-focused care that puts you and your family at the center of everything they do.

Thomas Obisesan, M.D., M.P.H. - Chief

Clinical practice focused on memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, failure to thrive and comprehensive geriatrics assessment.

Dr. Obisesan has specialty training in geriatrics, such as:

  • National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging (NIH/NIA) supported post-graduate training in clinical translational Science at the University of Maryland
  • NIH-supported training on genetics of cardiovascular disease, Jackson Laboratory Bar Harbor Main
  • Analysis of neuroimaging data at the MGH/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard
  • Oxford Round Table on Successful Aging

Dr. Obisesan has received many recognitions, including:

  • 2013: Leadership and Recognition Award from the Alzheimer's Association National Capital Area Chapter
  • 2008: Howard University Hospital Medical Staff Faculty Staff Patient Care Award, in recognition of providing outstanding patient care services
  • 2006: Alpha Omega Alpha, Medical Honor Society
  • 2005: Research Recognition Award and Keynote Speaker: Alzheimer's Association of the National Capital Area Chapter
  • 2005: Service Recognition Award from The National Caucus & Center on Black Aging, Inc.
  • 2005: Member of Oxford Round Table Meeting on Successful Aging, Oxford, United Kingdom

Laila Alamgir, M.D.

Clinical practice focused on internal medicine and wound care.

Richard F. Gillum, M.D., M.Sc. - Adjunct Faculty

Clinical practice focused on cardiovascular disease epidemiology.

Oyonumo Ntekim, M.D., Ph.D. - Adjunct Faculty

Clinical practice focused on nutritional science.

Vernon Bond, Ph.D.

Clinical practice focused on exercise physiology.

Research/Clinical Trials

The Division of Geriatrics at Howard University is involved with numerous research endeavors aimed at identifying effective treatments to reduce the physical, psychological, emotional and economic burden associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Working collaboratively with the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), the Division of Geriatrics established a clinical aging and dementia program at Howard University and conducted many ADCS clinical trials in a predominantly African-American population.

In addition, we are looking into the role of cardiovascular disease on dementia and concurrently investigating the effects of fitness adaptation memory – probing the physiologic, metabolic and molecular pathways mediating fitness effects on cognition and neurodegeneration.

Current Research Efforts

Genes, Exercise, Neurocognitive and Neurodegeneration: Community-Based Approach

  • The goal of this study is to determine whether aerobic exercise can improve memory in a community setting, and to better understand the mechanism of the effects (NIH supported). 

Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's Disease

  • Although the deposition of an abnormal protein (amyloid) in the brain is currently recognized as the cause of Alzheimer's disease, to date no good treatment is available. Therefore, the goal of this study is determine whether treatment directed at the amyloid protein in persons without clinical symptoms can prevent disease development (NIH supported).

Therapeutic effects of intranasally-administered insulin (INI) in adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or mild Alzheimer's disease (AD)

  • Whereas cardiovascular disease risk and Type 2 diabetes in particular contribute to memory loss, it is not clear whether treatment of diabetes can reduce disease progression. The goal of this study is determine whether intranasal insulin can improve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and disease progression (NIH supported).

MK-7622 as Adjunct Therapy to Donepezil in Subjects with Alzheimer's Disease

  • This study will test the effectiveness of a new medication as an addition to the currently approved treatment (Industry sponsored).

A Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety Of Short-Term Plasma Exchange Followed by Long-Term Plasmapheresis with Infusion Of Human Albumin Combined with Intravenous Immunoglobulin in Patients with Mild- Moderate Alzheimer's Disease

  • This study will test whether the removal of the abnormal protein (amyloid) causing Alzheimer's disease can reduce disease progression (Industry sponsored). 

Cognitive Aging in Blacks –- Role of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Alzheimer's Disease and Related-Dementia

  • The study will establish a population for cognitive aging at Howard University and prospectively examine the effects of cardiovascular disease risk on memory (NIH supported).

Hopkins-Howard Diabetes Research Center Collaboration with the national Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIADDK)

  • The goal of this study is to develop novel strategies for preventing diabetes (NIH supported).

Hayes Ward 6 Senior Wellness Center, DC Office on Aging

  • To provide oversight to the District of Columbia Ward 6 Senior Wellness Center. The overall goal of this project is to enhance the physical, nutritional and psychological well-being of seniors in Ward 6 District of Columbia.

Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI-II)

  • The goal of this study to understand prospectively changes in memory, biomarkers (proteins) and neuroimaging that occur in normal, mild cognitively impaired and Alzheimer's disease subjects (NIH supported).

Department of Defense - Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (DOD-ADNI). 

  • The goal of this study to understand the effects of post-traumatic brain injury on memory and biomarkers (protein) and neuroimaging in veterans (supported by the DOD).

Significance of Research

As a result of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and other such studies around the world, scientists have an improved understanding of brain and protein changes that result in Alzheimer's disease in living humans. New treatments directed at these changes are in development. This new knowledge is significant because for more than 100 years, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer's disease is when someone dies and the physician obtains a brain sample for analysis under microscope.

Additionally, due to our study of the effects of aerobic exercise on memory, scientists now know that important cellular changes occur in the body because of environmental and lifestyle changes such as in aerobic exercise. This may explain how exercise affects memory and wellness in general and authenticate the theory that environment interacts with genes to influence wellness or disease development.