Susan L. Hughes, PhD
Director, Center for Research on Health & Aging, University of Illinois
Professor of Community Health Sciences
Dr. Hughes is Professor in the School of Public Health and directs the Center for Research on Health and Aging at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on the design and testing of evidence-based health promotion programs for older adults. She has generated more than $30 million nationally in funding from NIH, CDC, the Veterans Administration and major foundations.
Dr. Hughes designed and tested the Fit & Strong! exercise/behavior change program for older adults with osteoarthritis (OA). Her prior work found that disability from arthritis is more pronounced among persons with OA in their.lower extremity joints. Fit & Strong! targets this group. Although the program lasts eight weeks, it has demonstrated significant improvements in joint stiffness, pain and function; performance measures of lower extremity strength and mobility as well as anxiety and depression out to 18 months. These findings matter because reduced lower extremity strength and mobility are both risk factors for falls and decreased mobility is an independent risk factor for mortality.
Fit & Strong! is ranked highly by CDC and the Administration on Community Living and is currently offered in 8 states across the US. A Hispanic version of the program is available and a new version that addresses both physical activity and diet/weight management is being tested. Dr. Hughes is Principal Investigator of the UIC Midwest Roybal Center for Health Promotion and Translation that has been funded four consecutive times by the National Institute on Aging. The pilot funding provided by her Roybal Center has stimulated research on aging broadly across many Departments and Schools at UIC. She has served on many national advisory committees, including the Institute of Medicine, NIH, the Administration on Aging, and CDC, served as a National Mentor to the Hartford Geriatric Social Work Scholar program for many years.
Dr. Hughes was recently named UIC Researcher of the Year in 2012.