Aging Re-Imagined Symposium brings National Speakers to Wake Forest University


Free event focuses on healthy aging

What do the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Executive Director of National Center for Creative Aging have in common? Well, at least two things – a passion for supporting healthy aging and the fact that they will both be speaking in Winston-Salem on May 3 at a symposium called “Aging Re-Imagined” at Wake Forest University. 

The Aging Re-Imagined Symposium will feature a double-header of speakers: Jennie Smith-Peers, the Executive Director of the National Center for Creative aging, will talk about her work in research and public policy supporting the arts as part of healthy aging; and Nir Barzilai, MD, the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will discuss his work exploring how genes and the brain affect the “health span.” These world-class speakers will be introduced by T. Lee Covington, President and Chief Executive of Senior Services, Inc. Mr. Covington will also present first results of the recent Aging Matters campaign led by Senior Services to assess the “aging friendliness” of Forsyth County.

The May 3rd Aging Re-Imagined event is a follow-up to a day-and-a-half long symposium last year that brought thought leaders in the aging field from different disciplines to Winston-Salem. Speakers last year included world-renowned artists, scientists, and doctors, such as Liz Lerman, a MacArthur Genius Grant award-winning choreographer whose dance company includes older adults, and Jay Olshansky, PhD, a demographer who has been featured on National Geographic. The 2016 event was offered free of charge to the public and was attended by over 300 people. This year’s event aims to continue last year’s momentum to prepare for another, larger symposium in Spring 2018.

“It is really important to us that these events are open to our whole community,” said co-organizer Christina Hugenschmidt, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “As university professors, we have the opportunity to hear about amazing breakthroughs in art and science. We want to open that opportunity to the community.”

The unusual combination of speakers was the brainchild of Christina Soriano, Director of Dance at Wake Forest University. Over the past few years, she has partnered with scientists to begin to learn more about how her work in dance with older adults may benefit people’s brains, balance, and overall wellness. Soriano said, “We believe these fields need to be in more conversation with each other, and with the community.”

“I am proud to work at Wake Forest because they care about interdisciplinary efforts, and sharing those with the Winston-Salem community and alumni,” added co-organizer Dany Kim-Shapiro, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Physics at Wake Forest University.

The Aging Re-Imagined 2017 event will take place Wednesday May 3, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Broyhill Auditorium in Farrell Hall on the Wake Forest University campus. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is strongly encouraged. Registration and more information can be found at


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