Bei Wu


Bei Wu headshot

Bei Wu


Dean's Professor in Global Health
Vice Dean, Research
Affiliated Professor, Ashman Department of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry
Co-director, NYU Aging Incubator

1 212 992 5951

433 First Ave
Room 520
New York, NY 10010
United States

Accepting PhD students

Bei Wu's additional information

Dr. Wu is Dean’s Professor in Global Health and Vice Dean for Research at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is an inaugural Co-Director of the NYU Aging Incubator. Prior to joining NYU, she was the Pauline Gratz Professor of Nursing at Duke University School of Nursing. Prof. Wu is an internationally-known leader in gerontology.

As a principal investigator, Prof. Wu has led numerous projects supported by federal agencies and private foundations, including the NIH and CDC. She is currently leading several NIH-funded projects including a clinical trial to improve oral health for persons

with cognitive impairment, and a large secondary data analysis to examine how the co-occurrence of diabetes and poor oral health may lead to the development of dementia and cognitive decline. She co-leads the newly funded Rutgers-NYU Center for Asian Health Promotion and Equity. Through this center, she also leads a 5-year intervention study that focuses on supporting Chinese and Korean dementia caregivers who are at increased risk for high blood pressure and diabetes due to the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. She is a director of the Research and Education Core for the NIA-funded Asian Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR).

As a scholar, Prof. Wu is an internationally known leader in gerontology. Her scholarship has been distinguished by interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various disciplines, including nursing and dentistry, in the US and abroad. Her research areas cover a wide range of topics related to aging and global health, including oral health, long-term care, dementia, and caregiving. She is one of the first in the nation to study the linkages between oral health and cognitive decline in older adults. Her research has also addressed knowledge gaps in the linkages between oral health and diabetes.

Prof. Wu has devoted much of her time to training the next generation of aging and nursing scientists from dozens of academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. She has mentored hundreds of faculty members, visiting scholars, and students from various disciplines, including nursing, gerontology, dentistry, medicine, social work, demography, public health, sociology, public policy, geography, and economics. She is successful in mentoring several dozens of early-stage faculty members in receiving competitive funding from NIH, Robert Wood Johnson Scholars, the Alzheimer’s Society (UK), National Science Foundation of China, China Medical Board, National Medical Research Council (Singapore), and many others. 

Prof. Wu is a productive researcher. She has published more than 600 peer-reviewed papers, books, reports, and conference abstracts. Her extensive publications cover a wide range of topics related to aging and global health. She has delivered presentations at hundreds of conferences as an invited speaker. Her work has been widely recognized in the field. Research findings from her team have been featured by the National Institute on Aging, and in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, BBC, U.S. News and World Report, MarketWatch, CBS News, Reuters, AARP Bulletin, China Daily, Daily

Mail, South China Morning Post, and Financial Review.

Her achievement has been recognized by many international and national organizations and she is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, and the New York Academy of Medicine. She is an honorary member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, and is the former president of the Geriatric Oral Research Group of the International Association for Dental Research. She has served on a number of NIH review panels and is a frequent reviewer for multiple international funding agencies. She was honored as the 2017 IADR Distinguished Scientist in Geriatric Oral Research. She is the recipient of the 2022 Wei Hu Inspiration Award from the China Health Policy and Management Society. 

PhD - Gerontology Center, University of Massachusetts, Boston
MS - Gerontology Center, University of Massachusetts, Boston
BS - Shanghai University


Honorary Member, Sigma Theta Tau International - Honor Society of Nursing

Faculty Honors Awards

Distinguished Scientist Award for Geriatric Oral Research, International Association for Dental Research (2017)
Pauline Gratz Professorship, Duke University School of Nursing (2014)
J. Morita Junior Investigator Award in Geriatric Oral Health, International Association for Dental Research (2007)
Fellow, Gerontological Society of America
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine
Fellow, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education


The Association between Intergenerational Support and Self-Rated Health among Chinese Older Adults: Do Resilience and Gender Matter?

Liu, S., Zhang, W., Zhang, K., & Wu, B. (2023). Journal of Applied Gerontology, 42(1), 111-120. 10.1177/07334648221127882
This study aims to examine the association between intergenerational support and self-rated health (SRH) levels using data collected from Chinese older adults residing in Honolulu, United States (N = 329). We also investigated the mediating role of resilience and the moderating role of gender in the association. We found that receiving emotional support was significantly and positively associated with better SRH for the whole sample. The positive effect of receiving emotional support on health was significant among older women only. In contrast, the beneficial effect of providing economic support on health was significant among older men only. We found that resilience significantly mediated the positive effect of received emotional support on SRH, and this effect was found for the whole sample and among older women. However, resilience did not mediate the positive effect of the economic support provided on SRH among older men.

Children’s Divorce and their Financial Support to Older Parents in Rural China

Cong, Z., Pei, Y., Silverstein, M., Li, S., & Wu, B. (2023). Research on Aging, 45(2), 119-132. 10.1177/01640275221079400
This study examined how adult children’s divorce affected their financial support to older parents in rural China and how that relationship was dependent on children’s gender. The sample was from rural Anhui Province and the working sample included 1629 older parents who reported their interactions with 6210 children across six waves of observations in 14 years (2001–2015). Generalized Estimating Equations showed that divorced sons provided less financial support to their parents than married sons. In contrast, divorced daughters did not necessarily provide less financial support than married daughters. This gender difference was statistically significant. The findings were discussed in the context of changing rural Chinese families, where the norm of filial piety is still strong but patrilineal tradition and gender ideology have experienced desynchronized changes.

Experiences and needs of older adults at different stages of cerebral infarction based on trajectory theory—A qualitative study

Tang, X., Sun, H., Ge, S., Han, S., Li, Y., & Wu, B. (2023). Nursing Open, 10(3), 1482-1491. 10.1002/nop2.1398
Background: In recent years, stroke has become the second leading cause of death worldwide, and the incidence and mortality of ischemic stroke have increased significantly. This study mainly aimed to explore the experiences and needs of older adults at different stages of cerebral infarction based on the chronic illness trajectory theory. Methods: Data were collected from 22 older adults experiencing the onset, acute, and stable stages of stroke through semi-structured interviews and were analyzed using Colaizzi's descriptive phenomenological approach. Results: Multiple themes and subthemes emerged on the experiences and needs of older adults at different stages of cerebral infarction based on the three dimensions of the long-term disease trajectory theory: illness-related work, biographical work, and everyday life work. Seven themes were extracted for illness-related work, six for biographical work, and eight for everyday life work. Discussions: The treatment, nursing, and rehabilitation of cerebral infarction are complex. This study indicated that patients after cerebral infarction have different experiences and needs for illness-related work. They also have distinctive and dynamically changing demands for biographical work and everyday life work. Conclusions: The experiences and needs of older patients with cerebral infarction changed dynamically at different stages of the disease. Healthcare professionals should develop effective interventions targeting these needs at various disease stages, provide patients with continuous support to shape their disease trajectories, and maintain patients' stability.

Poststroke activity engagement in community dwellers: Association with illness perceptions and perceived environment

Shi, Y., Howe, T. H., Halpin, P. F., & Wu, B. (2023). Clinical Rehabilitation, 37(1), 132-142. 10.1177/02692155221111926
Objectives: To investigate whether individuals’ poststroke activity engagement is associated with their perceptions of stroke, as well as their perceptions of physical and social environment. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Participants were recruited from eight rehabilitation settings in Beijing, China. Participants: A total of 202 dyads of community dwellers with stroke and their primary caregivers. Main Measures: Activity engagement measured by the Assessment of Life Habits; stroke individuals’ and caregivers’ illness perceptions measured by the Stroke-Specific Illness Perceptions Questionnaire – Revised; and stroke individuals’ perceived social and physical environment measured by the Social Support Survey and abbreviated Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale. Results: A total of 202 dyads of individuals with stroke and their caregivers participated in the study with mean ages of 61.3 (8.3) and 52.6 (11.6), respectively. On average, stroke individuals scored 7.61 (1.42) on the daily activities subscale, indicating that they completed personal level activities without assistance but with some difficulty. They scored 6.21 (2.21) on the social roles subscale, suggesting that individuals completed societal level activities with assistive devices and with some difficulty. Illness perceptions correlated significantly with personal level activity engagement (change in R-squared = 0.029; p = 0.049), and perceived accessibility and heterogeneity correlated significantly with societal level activity engagement (change in R-squared = 0.025; p = 0.011). Conclusions: Poststroke activity engagement is associated not only with stroke individuals’ performance skills but also with their perceptions of stroke, and how they perceive their physical environment. The findings may assist clinicians’ decision making when developing comprehensive, targeted interventions for improving activity engagement and maximizing recovery after stroke.

Quality of care in home health agencies with and without accreditation: a cohort study

Ma, C., Dutton, H. J., & Wu, B. (2023). Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 42(1), 1-13. 10.1080/01621424.2022.2123756
While home health agencies (HHAs) can seek accreditation to recognize their quality of service, it is unknown whether agencies with accreditation perform better in providing care than those without accreditation. Using 5-year data from national data sources, the aims of this study were: 1) to depict characteristics of HHAs with and without accreditation; and 2) to examine the relationship between accreditation status and HHA performance on quality-of-care metrics. This study analyzed 7,697 agencies in the US and found that 1) agencies that were for-profit, urban, not-hospital-affiliated, single-branch, Medicare enrolled only, and without hospice program were more likely to have accreditation; and 2) overall, accredited agencies performed better on the three commonly used quality indicators, timely initiation of care, hospitalization, and emergency department visit, though not all the observed differences were substantial in absolute value. Our results provide unique empirical information to agencies considering seeking accreditation.

Sex differences in the mediating role of chronic inflammation on the association between social isolation and cognitive functioning among older adults in the United States

Qi, X., Ng, T. K. S., & Wu, B. (2023). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 149. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2023.106023
Background: Previous research has reported the association between social isolation and cognitive impairment. However, biological mechanisms underlying this association are understudied. It is also unclear whether there are sex differences in these biological mechanisms. Objectives: To examine whether chronic inflammation biomarkers are potential mediators of the association between social isolation and cognitive functioning among older men and women. Methods: Data were the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2002. A total of 2535 older adults aged 60 and older were included. Chronic inflammation was measured by C-reactive protein (CRP), plasma fibrinogen, and serum albumin. Cognitive functioning was assessed by the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). Social isolation was defined using a 4-point composite index of items pertaining to the strength of social network and support. Linear regression models and formal mediation analysis were applied. Results: Social isolation was associated with lower DSST scores [β (SE) = −2.445 (1.180), p < 0.01 for men; β (SE) = −5.478 (1.167), p < 0.001 for women]. For older men, social isolation was associated with higher levels of CRP (β [SE] = 0.226 (0.110), p < 0.05) and fibrinogen (β [SE] = 0.058 (0.026), p < 0.05). In mediation analyses, among older men, CRP mediated 6.1% and fibrinogen mediated 12.0% of the association of social isolation with DSST. Conclusion: Social isolation was associated with poorer cognitive functioning partially via heightened inflammatory responses in older men. Defining these associations’ mechanisms in sex-specific contexts could inform preventive and therapeutic strategies for cognitive impairment in older adults.

“The Sun Came Up Because You Got Here…”: A Qualitative Exploration of Person-Centered Care Strategies Used by Adult Day Care Centers to Manage Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia

Boafo, J., David, D., Wu, B., Brody, A. A., & Sadarangani, T. (2023). Journal of Applied Gerontology, 42(2), 147-159. 10.1177/07334648221128283
In order to reduce care partner strain and support aging in place for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias (AD/ADRD), adult day centers (ADCs) must manage behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). The purpose of this paper is to identify person-centered care strategies used by center staff to manage BPSD. Six focus groups with center staff (n = 31) were conducted. Data were analyzed using directed content analysis guided by Kitwood’s conceptual approach to cultivating personhood in dementia care. Themes were identified and organized within Kitwood’s framework. The results demonstrate that staff incorporate evidence-based person-centered approaches to AD/ADRD care that align with Kitwood’s principles of comfort, attachment, inclusion, and identity. Staff individualize their approach to people with AD/ADRD within a group setting. They monitor, engage, socially stimulate, and, when needed, de-stimulate them. Centers are flexible social environments with underrecognized expertise managing BPSD using person-centered approaches.

Acculturation and Subsequent Oral Health Problems Among Foreign-Born Older Chinese Americans: Does Neighborhood Disorder Matter?

Mao, W., Wu, B., Chi, I., Yang, W., & Dong, X. Q. (2022). Research on Aging, 44(3), 231-240. 10.1177/01640275211018785
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between acculturation and subsequent oral health problems in older Chinese Americans and to further test the moderating role of neighborhood disorder in such a relationship. Methods: The working sample included 2,706 foreign-born community-dwelling older Chinese Americans aged 60 years or older who participated in the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago at baseline between 2011 and 2013 and the 2-year follow-up between 2013 and 2015. Stepwise Poisson regressions with lagged dependent variable were conducted. Results: Behavioral acculturation was protective against subsequent oral health problems, and the protective role was stronger among individuals reporting lower levels of neighborhood disorder. Residence in Chinatown was associated with an increase in the risk of subsequent oral health problems. Discussion: To reduce oral health symptoms and related burdens, it is important to consider, in practice and policy, the role of acculturation and the neighborhood on subsequent oral health outcomes.

Adverse childhood experiences in relation to comorbid cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among middle-aged and old adults in China

Zhang, K., Wu, B., & Zhang, W. (2022). Geriatrics and Gerontology International, 22(1), 12-18. 10.1111/ggi.14312
Aim: To examine whether various aspects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with comorbid cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and diabetes among middle-aged and old adults in China. Methods: Using the 2018 China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study survey and the 2014 Life History survey, in total, 17 115 respondents aged ≥45 years were included. Logistic regressions were applied to estimate the relationship between aspects of ACEs and diagnosis of both CVDs and diabetes while adjusting for adulthood demographics, health and health behaviors. Results: Childhood hunger (OR = 1.75, P < 0.01), childhood socioeconomic status (OR = 1.45, P < 0.05) and abuse from father (OR = 1.50, P < 0.05) were significantly associated with greater odds of comorbid CVDs and diabetes above and beyond adulthood characteristics. In addition, the effects of these ACEs on comorbidity were stronger than their effects on the single chronic condition. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, for middle-aged and old Chinese adults, ACEs could have long-lasting impacts on multiple chronic conditions in later life. Public health interventions should focus on the early life stage as the protective childhood conditions might help in warning of later clustering chronic diseases. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2022; 22: 12–18.

Art Attendance and Change in Cognitive Function Among U.S. Community-Dwelling Chinese Older Adults

Petrovsky, D. V., Wu, B., Hodgson, N. A., & Dong, X. Q. (2022). Journal of Applied Gerontology, 41(4), 1047-1056. 10.1177/07334648211017339
Engaging in leisure activities that are cognitively simulating and enjoyable may be protective against cognitive decline in older adults; yet, few studies have examined this topic. We used two waves of data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly and ran mixed-effects regression models to examine the relationship between baseline art activity attendance (including attending museum, musical arts, or both) and change in cognitive function (global, episodic memory, working memory, and executive function) among 2,703 older U.S. Chinese adults. We found that compared with older adults who did not attend any art activities, those who reported attending both art activities experienced a slower rate of change in episodic memory (estimate = −0.07; SE = 0.03; p =.01) and executive function (estimate = −0.06; SE =.03; p =.04). Our study findings point to the importance of attending art-based culture events among U.S. Chinese older adults.