Gerson Galdamez

Gerson Galdamez has been named a Robert Wood Johnson scholar. (Photo/Beth Newcomb)


Trojan looks into financial exploitation of elderly

Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Research scholar Gerson Galdamez is one of 40 students focusing on national health policy challenges

November 02, 2017 Orli Belman

USC’s Gerson Galdamez is among 40 graduate students joining the national Health Policy Research Scholars program.

Galdamez, a student at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, will focus on elder abuse interventions and the prevention of financial exploitation among older adults. The research program is led by George Washington University, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Galdamez currently conducts elder abuse research with Mary Pickford Professor of Gerontology Kate Wilber and Research Assistant Professor Zach Gassoumis in the USC Leonard Davis School’s Secure Old Age laboratory.

This new cohort of scholars is committed to research that challenges long-held notions about the health of our communities.

Harolyn Belcher

“This new cohort of scholars is committed to research that challenges long-held notions about the health of our communities,” said Harolyn M.E. Belcher, program director, Health Policy Research Scholars, director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training and professor at Johns Hopkins University. “I am thrilled to work alongside them as they continue to develop into the kind of leaders that can enact real change and ultimately build a culture of health.”

Diversity and advancement

Along the way, Galdamez aims to develop high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, mentoring, networking and an advanced leadership curriculum. While participating in the program, he will continue studying full-time and applying new knowledge and leadership within the USC Leonard Davis School, to advance a culture of health — one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life.

He also hopes to encourage other students from diverse backgrounds to advance their studies.

“I feel it is important to represent the Latino community in academia and health policy,” Galdamez said. “In supporting my work and connecting me to a larger group of scholars, I feel so fortunate to be part of this program and hope more people from underprivileged backgrounds will feel encouraged to pursue their goals.”

Additional partners providing training and coaching to scholars include AcademyHealth, Mayo Clinic, UCLA and the University of Michigan.

The next application period for many of these programs will open in early 2018.

Health Policy Research Scholars is one of a number of leadership development programs supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These programs continue the foundation’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders. Initially focused on health and health care, the programs have been expanded because the foundation knows that building a culture of health requires all of us in every sector, profession and discipline to work together.