Planning Your Encore Career: Discovering new passions and pursuing new hobbies

In October of this year, the Institute on Aging (IOA), in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania’s Human Resources Department, welcomed WHYY’s Willo Carey to discuss “Purposely Planning Your Encore Career.” Inspired by this presentation, the IOA has started working on a new video series project to document Penn faculty and staff and their thoughts and plans for “encore careers”.

 Rose Halligan currently works in an office as an Administrative Assistant for the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania but one day hopes to work from the comfort of her own home studio. She, like many others here at Penn, has started to think not only about her retirement, but also about her encore career. In addition to dedicating more time to her hobby of quilt making, Rose would love to pursue another recently discovered passion—voiceover and acting.

The idea arose from a student project in which she was asked to participate. At first, Rose was very hesitant and quickly shot down the idea, not wanting to step in front of the camera. However, when the student suggested the voiceover, she figured she would give it a shot. Much to her surprise, she enjoyed the experience so much that she instantly went back to her computer and began researching classes.

Since then, Rose has completed several voiceover classes, stepped out of her comfort zone and tried out acting, and has also enrolled in new courses for audiobook reading.

Learn more about Rose Halligan’s plans and inspiration for her encore career here:

Planning your encore career?

If you are a Penn employee and you’ve started thinking about your encore career, we’d love to hear from you! For more details, email:


Penn Neurodegenerative Disease Researchers sit on CurePSP Research Roundtable and Panel

Penn Medicine’s John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, director, Institute on Aging, and Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, MBA, director, Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, were among the neurodegenerative disease researchers and physicians selected to participate in a recent Roundtable discussion and Q&A Panel at an event hosted by the CurePSP Foundation.

The event, which was held at the Union Club in New York City, reached an audience of those who have been affected by PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy) and other related neurodegenerative diseases, such as family members and caregivers, in addition to donors and other investigators. The focus of the discussion mainly revolved around the relatively popular notion that PSP serves as a preferred target for the potential discovery of the causes behind all neurodegeneration, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease.

The reason that PSP seems to be a promising way to understand these other diseases is because with this specific disorder, investigators are able to target a single misfolded protein within the brain. “All of these neurodegenerative disease that you’ve heard about are disorders of protein misfolding… but PSP is almost the only disease where there is enough clinical information to make a fairly specific predictive diagnosis of what the underlying pathology is… and that is so important for clinical trials of drugs if you are targeting tau,” explained Dr. Trojanowski during the Q&A session.

View the full roundtable and panel, including discussion of current progress, collaborations, and future plans, here:



0:00 – 2:40 – Intro and Opening Remarks: David Kemp, President of CurePSP

2:40 – Introduction to Moderator: Jonathan Weiner, Columbia Journalism School

7:30 – Karen Duff, PhD, Columbia University

13:17 – John Trojanowski, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

19:15 – Alison Goate, PhD, Mount Sinai

24:51 – Scott Small, MD, Columbia University

29:00 – Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, MBA

33:19 – Sally Temple, PhD, Neural Stem Cell Institute

Q&A Panel

38:14Can you explain to us what is it in PSP that makes it promising as a way in to understanding all of the other diseases?

  • Answered by John Q. Trojanowski

43:24 Is there collaboration across the country and between the scientists?

  • Answered by Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, MBA, Alison Goate, PhD and Scott Small, MD

49:00 – Has the movement of academic medical centers toward patents and spin off companies hindered or helped collaboration and research in this area?

  • Answered by John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, Karen Duff, PhD, and Alison Goate, PhD

Penn Medicine’s Mary Ersek, PhD, RN shares her experience in “Dying in America” Documentary

“Dying in America: Nurses Leading the Conversation”

“Dying in America” is the second documentary directed and produced by Carolyn Jones. Her debut documentary, The American Nurse, was inspired by her own experience as a breast cancer patient—an experience that opened her eyes to the realization that the people who made the biggest impact during her treatment were actually the nurses. With this in mind, Jones decided to document the experience of the American nurse, and in doing so, realized that many of these individuals have had experiences around caring for people who are dying, prompting her next project.

Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, professor of palliative care at the University of Pennsylvania, became involved with this project following a premiere of The American Nurse here at Penn in which Carolyn Jones attended. “I had actually sent Carolyn a long list of names of my colleagues who she should talk with… and she got back to me and said, ‘Thanks so much for the recommendations, but we’d actually like to interview you,’” she explained.

Dr. Ersek explained that the discussion of end-of-life care has grown increasingly important, especially in terms of the recognition that we need to provide compassionate care to people toward the end of life.

Learn more about the “Dying in America” documentary in Part 1 of our interview with Dr. Ersek:

Learn more about Dr. Ersek’s work in palliative and end-of-life care in Part 2:


View the official “Dying in America” interviews, including Dr. Ersek’s, here: Dying in America Interviews

Loneliness Among Older Adults: “The Aging Problem We Don’t Talk About”

Should loneliness among older adults be considered a public health issue?

lonelyelderIn a recent article, Next Avenue, a national service for America’s 50+ population, shined a light on a common aging problem that tends to be ignored—loneliness.

According to the article, The Campaign to End Loneliness, a London-based charity working to address this problem, estimates that one million citizens in the UK suffer from feelings of isolation and points to research to defend their position that it should in fact be considered a public health issue. It not only affects us mentally, but physically as well, often impacting other health conditions. “The reality is that loneliness and isolation are both a metaphysical disruption – we are social beings and thrive with true connections to others – and a health problem. Increasing evidence points to an association of strong social connections with both increased well being in later life and longevity,” explained Sarah H. Kagan, PhD, RN, professor of Gerontological Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kagan often addresses issues similar to this in her column on “Myths of Aging.” She stresses the idea that happiness among older adults tends to be significantly higher in those who maintain healthy social relationships, and at a population level, these individuals with closer relationships tend to live longer. Essentially, this is the central mission of her work—to help the aging community not only to live longer, but to live happier and healthier as well.

Read more in the full Next Avenue Article here: The Aging Problem We Don’t Talk About

Image credit: WitthayaPhonsawat via