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

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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, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
Fellow, Gerontological Society of America
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine


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

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

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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.

Assessing psychological symptom networks related to HIV-positive duration among people living with HIV: a network analysis

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Assessing the Sustainability of Long-Term Care Insurance Systems Based on a Policy–Population–Economy Complex System: The Case Study of China

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Association between frailty and cognitive function in older Chinese people: A moderated mediation of social relationships and depressive symptoms

Ma, W., Wu, B., Gao, X., & Zhong, R. (2022). Journal of Affective Disorders, 316, 223-232. 10.1016/j.jad.2022.08.032
Background: To date, few studies have focused on examining either the direct or indirect effect of physical frailty on cognitive impairment. This study aimed to investigate the moderating effects of social relationships, including their individual components in the role of depressive symptoms as a mediator between frailty and cognitive impairment. Methods: This study included a total of 7525 Chinese older adults from the 2017–2018 wave of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). Mediation analyses and moderated mediation effect analysis fully adjusted for all potential confounding factors were conducted. Results: Significant correlations were found between frailty, depression, social relationships, and cognitive function. Depression partially mediated the association of frailty with cognitive function [B = −0.198; 95 % confidence interval (CI): (−0.258, −0.143)]. Social relationships moderated the effect of frailty on cognitive function through both path b (depression–cognitive function) [B = 0.137; 95 % CI: (0.045, 0.230)], and path c’ (frailty–cognitive function) [B = 0.870; 95 % CI: (0.562, 1.178)]. In addition, social activities and social networks moderated both the direct and indirect effect of the moderated mediation model. Social support only moderated the direct effect. Limitations: The cross-sectional design of this study precludes any conclusion from the results as to the causality of cognitive impairment. Conclusions: Social relationships moderated both the direct and indirect effects of depressive symptoms on the association between frailty and cognitive impairment. The findings suggest that interventions, such as paying attention to the mental health of old people and improving the quality of social relationships, may help break the link between frailty and cognitive impairment.

Caregiver burden and its associated factors among family caregivers of persons with dementia in Shanghai, China: a cross-sectional study

Liu, Z., Sun, W., Chen, H., Zhuang, J., Wu, B., Xu, H., Li, P., Chen, X., Li, J., & Yin, Y. (2022). BMJ Open, 12(5). 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-057817
Objective To assess the level of caregiver burden and factors associated with it among family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) living in communities of Shanghai, China. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting Communities in Hongkou District of Shanghai, China. Participants A random sample of 109 older adults with dementia and their primary family caregivers. Main outcome measure Caregiver burden measured by the Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI), and the Caregivers' depressive symptom measured by the simplified Chinese version of Self-rating Depression Scale was the outcome variable of the study. The independent variables, including the cognitive function (measured by Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), sleep quality assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, abilities of daily life assessed by the Activities of Daily Living Scale, and behavioural and psychological symptoms assessed by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory of PWDs, the community service utilisation (measured by the Community Service Utilisation Measurement), perceived social support (assessed by three questions), positive aspects of caregiving (PAC) (assessed by the PAC) of dementia caregivers, were analysed. Multivariate linear regression was employed to determine the factors related to caregiver burden. Results The average level of CBI was 65.92±16.74. The score of MoCA, PAC and perceived social support of caregivers were negatively associated with caregiver burden (β=-0.84, p<0.001, β=-3.61, p=0.03 and β=-1.22, p=0.001, respectively). Community service utilisation was positively associated (β=3.46, p<0.001) with caregiver burden. Perceived social support by the caregiver moderated the relationship between caregiver burden and caregivers' depression symptoms. Conclusion Dementia caregivers experienced a high level of caregiver burden. The cognitive function of PWD, PAC, social support and community service utilisation were factors associated with caregiver burden. Strengthening social support, providing more high-quality home care services, promoting PAC are imperative to reduce caregiver burden.

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

Cong, Z., Pei, Y., Silverstein, M., Li, S., & Wu, B. (2022). Research on Aging. 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.

Decision Aid Interventions for Family Caregivers of Persons With Advanced Dementia in Decision-Making About Feeding Options: A Scoping Review

Pei, Y., Qi, X., Schulman-Green, D., Hu, M., Wang, K., & Wu, B. (2022). Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 10.1016/j.jamda.2022.08.014
Objectives: We provided an overview of the literature on decision aid interventions for family caregivers of older adults with advanced dementia regarding decision making about tube feeding. We synthesized (1) the use of theory during the development, implementation, and evaluation of decision aids; (2) the development, content, and delivery of decision aid interventions; (3) caregivers’ experience with decision aid interventions; and (4) the effect of decision aid interventions on caregivers’ quality of decision-making about feeding options. Design: Scoping review. Methods: We conducted a scoping review of peer-reviewed studies published January 1, 2000–June 30, 2022, in MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and Web of Science databases. The process was guided by Arksey and O'Malley’s methodological framework, which includes identifying the research question, choosing related studies, charting the data, and summarizing results. Empirical articles concerning the decision aid interventions about feeding options were selected. Results: Six publications reporting 4 unique decision aid interventions were included. All the interventions targeted caregivers of older adults with advanced dementia. Three decision aids were culturally adapted from existing decision aids. The Ottawa Decision Support Framework and the International Patient Decision Aid Standards Framework were used in these 6 publications. Interventions aimed to improve decision making regarding tube feeding for caregivers through static delivery methods. Caregivers rated these decision aids as helpful and acceptable. Decisional conflict and knowledge of feeding options were the most common outcomes evaluated. Reduction in decisional conflict and increase in knowledge were consistently found among dementia caregivers, but no intervention effects were found on preferences for the use of tube feeding. Conclusions and Implications: Decision aid interventions effectively improve decision-making regarding tube feeding among the target population. Cultural adaptation of an existing decision aid intervention is the main strategy. However, the lack of guidance of a cultural adaptation framework in this process may lead to difficulties explaining caregivers’ behavioral changes. Moreover, merely providing information is not enough to change caregivers’ preferences or behavior of use of tube feeding. A systematic approach to cultural adaptation and interactive intervention is needed in future studies.

Differences in the oral health status in hospitalised stroke patients according to swallowing function: A cross-sectional study

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