A consortium of six colleges and universities led by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has received a $2.14 million federal grant to expand geriatric education in East Texas.

Working to improve health care for elderly in an area covering 72 counties, the East Texas Geriatric Education Center Consortium, in partnership with the East Texas Area Health Education Centers, will use the grant to expand geriatric education to the lay public, undergraduate students in medicine, nursing and health professions at UTMB, residents, geriatric fellows, health care providers in allopathic medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work and physician assistant studies.

Anthony DiNuzzo, associate director of research at the Sealy Center on Aging at UTMB, said, “This is an expansion of a previous grant. We are including a larger service area as well as programs targeting health professionals and students at UTMB. We’re expanding everything in terms of goals and outcomes.” DiNuzzo is principal investigator on the five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“Even though we target health professionals and students, our programs are open to anyone,” he said. “The material also trickles down to older patients as part of our dissemination and train the trainer models.”

The consortium includes Baylor University, Lamar University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Victoria College and Weatherford College. UTMB is the lead institution on the grant. The consortium covers an area the size of Michigan, the 11th largest state, with a population of 4 million, some 536,000 of which are 65 or older. More than 85 percent of the population is rural and medically underserved.

“The consortium will provide special emphasis on unique populations, including older minorities, elderly in rural communities and elderly nursing home residents and older prisoners,” DiNuzzo said. “This is our best shot at exposing students to more geriatrics during their training.”