Bei Wu headshot

Bei Wu


Dean's Professor in Global Health
Director, Global Health & Aging Research
Director for Research, Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing
Affiliated Professor, Ashman Department of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry

1 212 992 5951

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

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Professional overview

Bei Wu, PhD, is an inaugural co-director of the Aging Incubator at New York University. She holds the position of dean’s professor in hlobal health and director of global health and aging research at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is also the director of research at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU. As a principal investigator, she has led a significant number of projects supported by federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is leading an ongoing NIH-funded clinical trial to improve oral health for persons with cognitive impairment.

Wu is an internationally known leader in gerontology. Her career in gerontology has been distinguished by interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various disciplines, including nursing and dentistry, at many academic institutions and organizations in the United States 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 has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers, books, and conference abstracts and has delivered presentations at hundreds of conferences as an invited speaker. 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.

Wu is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, 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. Wu 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.

Wu earned her PhD and MS in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and BS from Shanghai University.


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



Professional membership

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

Honors and awards

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



Anxiety about aging, resilience and health Status among Chinese older adults: Findings from Honolulu and Wuhan

Zhang, K., Zhang, W., Wu, B., & Liu, S. (2020). Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 88. 10.1016/j.archger.2020.104015
A growing body of literature found that anxiety about aging is related to health and well-being of older adults. However, very few studies have been conducted on Chinese older adults residing in different countries and examined the role of resilience. Using the Pearlin's Stress Process Model, this study aims to fill in this gap by examining the relationship between anxiety about aging as the stressor and health status among Chinese older adults living in Honolulu, the United States (N = 292) and Wuhan, China (N = 532). The survey data were collected through June 2017 to September 2018, using snowball and convenience sampling strategy. The moderating role of resilience on the focal relationship is also explored. Results showed that for both samples, the negative relationship between anxiety about aging and self-rated health was significantly moderated by resilience (18 % and 13 %, respectively), implying the stress-buffering role of resilience. Although both mean levels of resilience and anxiety about aging were lower for the Honolulu sample, the moderating effect appeared to be stronger, implying that older adults in the Honolulu sample might rely more on psychological resources such as resilience in coping with stressors, compared with their counterparts in Wuhan. However, the moderating effect of resilience did not work for the association between anxiety about aging and number of chronic conditions for both samples. Our findings suggest that future research needs to take into account both social and psychological resources when examining anxiety about aging and health status among Chinese older adults residing in different cultural contexts.

Characterizing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption for US Children and Adolescents by Race/Ethnicity

Russo, R. G., Northridge, M. E., Wu, B., & Yi, S. S. (2020). Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 10.1007/s40615-020-00733-7
OBJECTIVES: To examine racial/ethnic differences in type of SSB most frequently consumed and in correlates of youth sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake.METHODS: Data were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2011-2016, for children and adolescents aged 5-17 years (n = 6507). The main outcome was SSB consumption (i.e., sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, nectars, sports and energy drinks, sweetened coffees and teas, enhanced waters). Mean and proportions of SSB intake were estimated accounting for complex sampling strategy and weighting. Multivariable regression models were developed for each race/ethnicity and age group.RESULTS: Two-thirds of children and adolescents reported consuming SSB on a given day. Among consumers, mean SSB consumption was greatest for Black children and White adolescents and lowest for Asian American children and adolescents. The most popular type of SSB consumed was sweetened fruit drinks among children and soda among adolescents, except among White and Mexican American children for whom soda and Black adolescents for whom sweetened fruit drinks were most popular. Female sex and water intake were negatively associated with SSB consumption across most races/ethnicities. Screen time, dentist visits, nativity, and guardian education were associated with SSB intake among a subset of races/ethnicities.CONCLUSIONS: Associations between covariates and SSB intake as well as types of beverages preferred vary by race/ethnicity, as such chronic disease policies should not be 'one size fits all'. Targeted interventions for specific groups of vulnerable youths hold promise for further reducing SSB consumption, including directing efforts towards reducing sweetened fruit drinks for Black children.

Effects of Care Arrangement on the Age of Institutionalization among Community-dwelling Chinese Older Adults

Wang, J., Yang, Q., & Wu, B. (2020). Journal of Aging and Social Policy. 10.1080/08959420.2020.1726720
Early and unnecessary institutionalization of older adults can be a heavy burden on the country and taxpayers. It is crucial to understand factors impacting the age of institutionalization of older adults in China. This study examined care arrangements of older adults in China and the relationship between these arrangements and the age of relocation to long-term care facilities (institutionalization). Results show that care arrangements affect the age of institutionalization among community-dwelling Chinese older adults. Those who were primarily cared for by sons and daughter-in-laws tended to be institutionalized at a significantly later age compared to those who were cared for by their spouses. Those who were primarily cared for by other relatives and friends, by domestic helpers, and those with no caregivers tended to have significantly earlier institutionalization compared to those who were cared for by their spouses. However, the number of older adults living in empty nest families is increasing rapidly. Traditional family support for older adults has been shrinking due to fewer children, out-migration of adult children from rural to urban areas, and increased employment of women in China. There is an acute shortage of competent and qualified elder care workers. Most Chinese domestic helpers started their work with limited or even no training, risking the safety of themselves and their employers. In addition to increasing and optimizing the investment in the elder care industry, legal protection and policy support for the elderly and domestic helpers are urgently needed to address these key issues.

Gender differences in quality of life among community-dwelling older adults in low- and middle-income countries: results from the Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE)

Lee, K. H., Xu, H., & Wu, B. (2020). BMC Public Health, 20(114). doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8212-0
Quality of life (QoL) is an important component of individuals’ general well-being, particularly in older adults. However, factors influencing QoL among older adults in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have not been fully examined. Furthermore, the role of gender differences in relation to QoL in multiple LMICs has also not been examined in detail.

Immigrant Status, Resilience, and Perceived Oral Health Among Chinese Americans in Hawaii

Wu, B., Pei, Y., Zhang, W., & Northridge, M. (2020). Research on Aging, 164027520912493. 10.1177/0164027520912493
OBJECTIVES: This study aims to examine the associations among immigrant status, resilience, and perceived oral health for Chinese American older adults in Hawaii.METHOD: Data derived from 430 Chinese American adults aged 55 years and older residing in Honolulu, HI. We compared the self-rated oral health and oral health problems between U.S.-born Chinese Americans and foreign-born Chinese Americans by using ordered logistic regression and ordinary least squares regression models.RESULTS: Findings suggest that immigrant status and lower levels of resilience are associated with poorer self-rated oral health and more oral health problems for Chinese American older adults in Hawaii. Resilience is more strongly associated with self-rated oral health for U.S.-born Chinese American than for foreign-born Chinese Americans, but this pattern was not evident for oral health problems.DISCUSSION: Older Chinese American immigrants in Hawaii are disadvantaged in terms of their oral health. Understanding their susceptibilities may lead to targeted interventions.

Primary health care providers’ advice for dental checkups and dentist visits among children: Results from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 2001-2016

Luo, H., Garcia, R. I., Moss, M., Bell, R., Wright, W., & Wu, B. (2020). Journal of Public Health Dentistry. DOI:10.1111/jphd.12356
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. In the United States, national survey data from 2011 to 2014 showed that about 24% of children aged 2–5 years have experienced dental caries in their primary teeth, with 11% having untreated caries; 58% of adolescents aged 12–19 years have experienced dental caries in their permanent teeth, with 19% having untreated caries.1 Hispanic and non‐Hispanic black children aged 2–8 years have two times as much untreated caries in their primary teeth as non‐Hispanic white children.2Untreated dental caries can cause pain and affect children's ability to speak, eat, and learn.3 Children's oral health is a key public health priority.4 To improve children's health, collaboration between medical and dental care professionals is needed.5 In recent years, efforts have been implemented to promote the integration of medicine and dentistry. For example, in 2000, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General called for individuals, health professionals, and their communities to work together to bridge the long‐standing gap between medical and dental care to reduce disparities6; in 2011, the Institute of Medicine reinforced the call for multidisciplinary health‐care teams working together to improve oral health7; in 2014, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched initiatives to introduce core clinical competencies within primary care practices that specifically address oral health8; and, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has included pediatric dental services as one of 10 essential health benefits that must be offered by all small‐group and individual health plans.9 In addition, other professional organizations have also promoted early dental visits.10-12A few cross‐sectional studies13-17 have reported the provision of preventive dental services and referrals to dental providers by non‐dentist physicians. Yet, the impact of the above‐mentioned policy initiatives and efforts over time on pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) offering dental checkup advice and the effectiveness of such recommendation on having a dental visit has not been assessed recently. Our study aimed to assess whether a recommendation by a PCP was effective in increasing the use of dental services. The findings may inform new strategies to further promote the integration of medicine and dentistry.The objectives of this study were to assess: (a) the trend of the proportion of children being given dental checkup advice from PCPs by age and by race/ethnicity; (b) the trend of the proportion of children having a dental visit by whether or not they were given dental checkup advice over 2001–2016; and (c) predisposing and enabling factors associated with being given dental checkup advice and having a dental visit.

Resident Challenges With Pain and Functional Limitations in Chinese Residential Care Facilities

Song, Y., Anderson, R. A., Wu, B., Scales, K., McConnell, E., Leung, A. Y., & Corazzini, K. N. (2020). The Gerontologist, 60(1), 89-100. 10.1093/geront/gny154
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Pain and functional limitations can severely impede older adults' quality of life. In Chinese residential care facilities, limited research suggests that residents potentially have significant unmet care needs with pain and related functional limitations. Therefore, we aimed to explore residents' challenges and self-management strategies in these two areas. This knowledge is essential to developing care interventions to improve quality of care and quality of life in Chinese residential care facilities. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted semi-structured open-ended interviews with residents (n = 21) in two facilities in eastern and central China and assessed their pain and functional status using self-report measures from Minimum Data Set 3.0. We applied descriptive statistics to the self-reported data and analyzed the interview data using thematic analysis by drawing on the Adaptive Leadership Framework. This framework proposes that individuals living with chronic conditions need to engage in work to address their complex health concerns and that they need support from the environment to facilitate problem-solving. RESULTS: Residents described significant unmet care needs with pain and functional limitations. To address these care needs, they adopted a substantial number of self-management strategies. While doing so, they faced significant barriers, including service gaps and inadequate direct care. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: The findings suggest further research to explore long-term care policy change that is needed to provide comprehensive health and medical services and adequate direct care in these facilities. The importance of establishing various types of long-term care facilities is also highlighted.

Trends of children being given advice for dental checkups and having a dental visit in the United States: 2001–2016

Luo, H., I. Garcia, R., Moss, M. E., Bell, R. A., Wright, W., & Wu, B. (2020). Journal of Public Health Dentistry. 10.1111/jphd.12356
Introduction: The objectives of this study were to describe trends of children being given dental checkup advice by primary care providers (PCPs) and having dental visits and to assess factors associated with being given dental checkup advice and having a dental visit. Methods: Data were from the annual, cross-sectional Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) from 2001 to 2016. The sample included 126,773 children ages 2–17 years. We used predictive margins to estimate the probability of being given dental checkup advice and having a dental visit. We examined time trends of the proportion of children being given dental checkup advice from PCPs, as well as trends in the proportion of children having a dental visit from 2001 to 2016. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the association between being given dental checkup advice and having a dental visit. Results: Overall, the proportion of children being given dental checkup advice increased from 31.4% in 2001 to 51.8% in 2016 (Trend P < 0.001). No significant increasing trend was found for having a dental visit among those being given dental checkup advice (Trend P > 0.05). Children being given dental checkup advice were more likely to have a dental visit (AOR = 1.54, P < 0.001). Conclusions: Although there was an increase in the proportion of children being given advice to have dental checkups by PCPs from 2001 to 2016, there was no significant increase in having a dental visit among children being given the advice. More research is needed to better understand how dental care advice from a PCP can effectively motivate and facilitate dental care for children.

Advancing Long-Term Care Science Through Using Common Data Elements: Candidate Measures for Care Outcomes of Personhood, Well-Being, and Quality of Life

Edvardsson, D., Rebecca, B., Corneliusson, L., Anderson, R. A., Anna, B., Boas, P. V., Corazzini, K., Gordon, A. L., Hanratty, B., Jacinto, A., Lepore, M. J., Leung, A. Y., McGilton, K. S., Meyer, J. E., Schols, J. M., Schwartz, L., Shepherd, V., Skoldunger, A., Thompson, R., Toles, M., Wachholz, P., Wang, J., Wu, B., & Zuniga, F. (2019). Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. 10.1177/2333721419842672

Age and regional disparity in HIV education among migrants in China: Migrants population dynamic monitoring survey, 2014-2015

Zhu, Z., Guo, M., Petrovsky, D. V., Dong, T., Hu, Y., & Wu, B. (2019). International Journal for Equity in Health, 18(1). 10.1186/s12939-019-0999-x
Objective: A lack of education among migrants remains an important but overlooked issue that indirectly contributes to HIV transmission. It is necessary to know who has received HIV education and who has a lower probability of being educated among migrants across different regions and age groups in China. Methods: We used pooled data from the 2014 and 2015 Migrants Population Dynamic Monitoring Survey. The study population included 406,937 Chinese migrants. Participants were asked whether they had received any HIV education after migrating to the destination city. Regions were categorized into east-coast, central, northwest, southwest, west-Tibet, west-Uyghur, and northeast regions. Hierarchical logistic regression modeling was conducted to investigate the relationships between the independent variables and HIV education. Results: Of 406,937 participants, half (50.6%) had reported receiving HIV education. Individuals in the west-Uyghur region had the highest proportion of receiving HIV education (73.0%), followed by the southwest region (67.9%) and the west-Tibet region (54.8%). Methods of receiving HIV education varied among different age groups. Individuals who were in a region with a higher prevalence of HIV, a lower density of medical professionals, and a higher density of migrants were more likely to receive HIV education. Conclusions: The study showed significant regional disparities among migrants in China. More HIV resources need to be allocated to regions with large-scale floating populations, such as the east-coast region. Providing multiple options, including both new and traditional media, for both young and elderly migrants is essential. HIV education should be tailored to the age of migrants with low educational and income levels.