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
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


Adverse Childhood Experiences and Oral Health Conditions Among Middle-aged and Older Chinese Adults: Exploring the Moderating Roles of Education and Gender

Zhang, K., Wu, B., & Zhang, W. (2023). Research on Aging, 45(2), 221-238. 10.1177/01640275221088926
This study aims to examine whether adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with oral health conditions (denture use, difficulty in chewing, and edentulism) among middle-aged and older adults in China and if gender and adulthood education moderate the associations. Data were obtained from the 2014 and 2018 surveys from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (N = 17,091) and logistic regressions were carried out. Results show that childhood hunger (OR = 1.12), loneliness (OR = 1.10) and family relations (OR = 1.07) were significantly associated with higher odds of denture use and there were significant associations between hunger (OR = 1.16) and difficulty in chewing. For the female subsample, education significantly moderated the adverse effect of childhood hunger on denture use and difficulty in chewing. Findings suggest that ACEs have long-lasting impacts on oral health conditions in later life and adulthood education might offer critical resources for females, helping them buffer the detrimental health impacts of ACEs.

Age differences in the effects of multi-component periodontal treatments on oral and metabolic health among people with diabetes mellitus: A meta-epidemiological study

Zhu, Z., Qi, X., Zheng, Y., Pei, Y., & Wu, B. (2023). Journal of Dentistry, 135, 104594. 10.1016/j.jdent.2023.104594
OBJECTIVE: To explore the age differences in the effects of multi-component periodontal treatments on oral and metabolic indicators among individuals with periodontitis and diabetes.DATA: Trials reporting the effects of multi-component periodontal treatments on oral and metabolic indicators among participants aged 18 and above with periodontitis and diabetes were included.SOURCES: Six databases (PubMed/Medline, Embase, CINHAL, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and ProQuest) were searched from database inception to August 2022.STUDY SELECTION: Two reviewers selected the included studies independently. We used bivariate and multivariate meta-regression models to examine the association between age and treatment effect size. The primary outcomes were changes in probing depth (PD), clinical attachment level (CAL), and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c).RESULTS: A total of 18,067 articles were identified in the database search. Of these, 115 trials (119 articles) met inclusion criteria. The mean age of participants was 58 years old, ranging from 35 to 73 years. The pooled evidence demonstrated that multi-component periodontal treatment significantly reduced PD (g=0.929 [0.689-1.169], I2=94.1%), CAL (g=0.879 [0.669-1.089], I2=92.1%), and HbA1c (g=0.603 [0.443-0.763], I2=87.5%). A significant decreasing trend was observed in the effect size for PD (P for trend = 0.020) and CAL (P for trend = 0.028) as age increases. Results from multivariate meta-regression showed that mean age was associated with a smaller effect size for PD (β=-0.123 [0.041], P = 0.004) and CAL (β=-0.159 [0.055], P = 0.006). Compared to their younger counterparts, the effect size for HbA1c was smaller among participants aged 55 and older (β=-0.792 [0.322], P = 0.017).CONCLUSIONS: Multi-component periodontal treatments may be more effective in younger populations in terms of effects on PD, CAL, and HbA1c.CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Our study highlights the importance of early intervention and tailored treatment approaches. Clinicians should take into account the patient's age when developing periodontal treatment plans and may need to employ more aggressive or personalized strategies for older adults to achieve optimal outcomes.

Age and Mental Health Symptoms among Chinese Persons with HIV: The Mediating and Moderating Role of Perceived Discrimination

Han, S., Pei, Y., Wang, J., Hu, Y., Zhu, Z., Qi, X., Yang, Z., & Wu, B. (2023). Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 34(1), 105-112. 10.1097/JNC.0000000000000373
The association between age and mental health symptoms among persons with HIV (PWH) is inconsistent, and little is known about the mediators and moderators of this association. This study aimed to examine the association between age and mental health symptoms, as well as the mediators and moderators of perceived discrimination. Data were from 1,304 PWH who completed a cross-sectional survey in five areas of China. Multiple linear regressions showed that younger age was significantly associated with more severe mental health symptoms and that perceived discrimination moderated this relationship. The Sobel test showed that perceived discrimination also mediated the association between age and mental health symptoms. Our study indicates that perceived discrimination shapes the association between age and mental health symptoms among PWH and highlights the importance of designing age-Tailored mental health intervention strategies for perceived discrimination among young PWH. Interventions addressing discrimination are necessary to help improve mental health, especially for young PWH.

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.

Association Between Types of Loneliness and Risks of Functional Disability in Older Men and Women: A Prospective Analysis

Qi, X., Belsky, D. W., Yang, Y. C., & Wu, B. (2023). American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31(8), 621-632. 10.1016/j.jagp.2023.02.046
Objective: To examine the association between types of loneliness (transient, incident, and chronic) and the risk of functional disability. Methods: Data were from the Health and Retirement Study 2006/2008-2016/2018. A total of 7,148 adults aged ≥50 was included. Functional status was measured by activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Loneliness was assessed using the 3-item UCLA Loneliness Scale. We defined loneliness as no/transient/incident/chronic loneliness based on the pattern and duration of loneliness across 2006/2008 and 2010/2012. We applied multivariate Cox proportional hazard models with the new-onset ADL/IADL disability as outcome. Results: Overall, 69.3% respondents showed no loneliness; while 10.3%, 8.9%, and 11.5% showed transient, incident, and chronic loneliness, respectively. A total of 1,298 (18.16%) and 1,260 (17.63%) functionally normal respondents developed ADL and IADL disability during 36,294 person-years of follow-up, respectively. After adjusting for socio-demographic, behavioral, and health factors, chronic loneliness was associated with higher risks of ADL (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.37, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.16–1.63, p <0.001, χ2 = 3.60, degree of freedom [df] = 1) and IADL disability (HR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.09–1.44, p = 0.002, χ2 = 3.17, df = 1) compared to no loneliness. By contrast, no significant associations between transient loneliness and ADL (HR = 1.17, 95% CI = 0.88–1.57, p = 0.273, χ2 = 1.10, df = 1) or IADL disability (HR = 1.16, 95% CI = 0.97–1.39, p = 0.112, χ2 = 1.59, df = 1) were found. Chronic loneliness was not associated with the risk of IADL disability in men (HR = 1.13, 95% CI = 0.91–1.40, p = 0.263, χ2 = 1.12, df = 1). Conclusion: Chronic loneliness, rather than transient loneliness, is an independent risk factor for functional disability in middle-aged and older adults, especially for women.

Associations of social isolation and loneliness with the onset of insomnia symptoms among middle-aged and older adults in the United States: A population-based cohort study

Qi, X., Malone, S. K., Pei, Y., Zhu, Z., & Wu, B. (2023). Psychiatry Research, 325. 10.1016/j.psychres.2023.115266
There is an inconsistent conclusion regarding the relationship of social isolation and loneliness with poor sleep. We investigated the associations of social isolation and loneliness with new-onset insomnia symptoms in a nationally-representative sample of 9,430 adults aged ≥50 who were free of any insomnia symptoms/sleep disorders at baseline (wave 12/13) and followed up to 4 years from the Health and Retirement Study. Social isolation was measured by Steptoe's Social Isolation Index. Loneliness was measured by the revised 3-item UCLA-Loneliness Scale. Insomnia symptoms were quantified using the modified Jenkins Sleep Questionnaire. During a mean follow-up of 3.52 years, 1,522 (16.1%) participants developed at least one insomnia symptom. Cox models showed that loneliness was associated with the onset of difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep, early-morning awakening, nonrestorative sleep, and at least one of these symptoms after adjusting for potential covariates; while social isolation was not associated with the onset of difficulties maintaining sleep, early-morning awakening, or at least one insomnia symptom after adjusting for health indicators. These results are consistent in sensitivity analyses and stratified analyses by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and obesity. Public health interventions aimed at fostering close emotional relationships may reduce the burden of poor sleep among middle-aged and older adults.

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.

China’s Ambitious Policy Experiment with Social Long-Term Care Insurance: Promises, Challenges, and Prospects

Feng, Z., Lin, Y., Wu, B., Zhuang, X., & Glinskaya, E. (2023). Journal of Aging and Social Policy. 10.1080/08959420.2023.2182574
In 2016, China launched long-term care insurance (LTCI) pilot programs in 15 cities across the country. In this Commentary, we provide an overview of these pilots regarding the target insured population, sources of financing, beneficiary eligibility criteria, and benefit design. We offer perspectives on the strengths and limitations, implementation challenges, and future prospects of these ongoing pilots. Also, we highlight the needs for addressing several key policy issues and challenges before further expanding these programs toward national implementation. These include solidifying the LTCI financing pool for independence and self-sustainability, balancing national priorities and local needs in LTCI design, reducing coverage gaps and disparities, ensuring quality of care through pay-for-performance and regulatory oversight, and strengthening independent evaluation of LTCI implementation and impacts.

Diabetes, Edentulism, and Cognitive Decline: A 12-Year Prospective Analysis

Wu, B., Luo, H., Tan, C., Qi, X., Sloan, F. A., Kamer, A. R., Schwartz, M. D., Martinez, M., & Plassman, B. L. (2023). Journal of Dental Research, 102(8), 879-886. 10.1177/00220345231155825
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a recognized risk factor for dementia, and increasing evidence shows that tooth loss is associated with cognitive impairment and dementia. However, the effect of the co-occurrence of DM and edentulism on cognitive decline is understudied. This 12-y cohort study aimed to assess the effect of the co-occurrence of DM and edentulism on cognitive decline and examine whether the effect differs by age group. Data were drawn from the 2006 to 2018 Health and Retirement Study. The study sample included 5,440 older adults aged 65 to 74 y, 3,300 aged 75 to 84 y, and 1,208 aged 85 y or older. Linear mixed-effect regression was employed to model the rates of cognitive decline stratified by age cohorts. Compared with their counterparts with neither DM nor edentulism at baseline, older adults aged 65 to 74 y (β = −1.12; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.56 to −0.65; P < 0.001) and those aged 75 to 84 y with both conditions (β = −1.35; 95% CI, −2.09 to −0.61; P < 0.001) had a worse cognitive function. For the rate of cognitive decline, compared to those with neither condition from the same age cohort, older adults aged 65 to 74 y with both conditions declined at a higher rate (β = −0.15; 95% CI, −0.20 to −0.10; P < 0.001). Having DM alone led to an accelerated cognitive decline in older adults aged 65 to 74 y (β = −0.09; 95% CI, −0.13 to −0.05; P < 0.001); having edentulism alone led to an accelerated decline in older adults aged 65 to 74 y (β = −0.13; 95% CI, −0.17 to −0.08; P < 0.001) and older adults aged 75 to 84 (β = −0.10; 95% CI, −0.17 to −0.03; P < 0.01). Our study finds the co-occurrence of DM and edentulism led to a worse cognitive function and a faster cognitive decline in older adults aged 65 to 74 y.

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

Tian, F., Li, J., Wu, B., Xiao, R., Liu, J., Yu, J., Liu, L., & Zhu, R. (2023). Journal of Clinical Nursing, 32(7), 1140-1147. 10.1111/jocn.16254
Background: Dysphagia is one of the common complications caused by stroke, leading to poor oral health. Oral health is often neglected after stroke by clinical care providers and the patients. Identifying the status of oral health in hospitalised stroke patients with swallowing disorders will facilitate the attention of clinical care providers. Aim: To investigate the differences in the oral health status between hospitalised post-stroke patients with dysphagia and non-dysphagia. Design: A cross-sectional study. Methods: A purposive sampling method was used to recruit participants. Participants included hospitalised post-stroke patients with dysphagia and without dysphagia. Stroke patients were recruited from the Department of Neurology, Guizhou Provincial People's Hospital in China. A total of 120 stroke patients completed the survey. The data collected included their demographics, the scores on the Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT), Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index (GOHAI), and the Eating Assessment Tool-10 (EAT-10). The study was compliant with the STROBE checklist. Results: The average age of the dysphagia group was 67 (64~76) vs the participants without dysphagia group 67 (65~76), (p =.610). The mean standard deviation (SD) OHAT score of participants with dysphagia was 5.28 (2.33) compared to participants without dysphagia 8.89 (3.07), (p <.05). This result indicates post-stroke dysphagia (PSD) patients had worse oral health than stroke patients without dysphagia. Binary logistic regression analysis showed that oral health status was the independent influencing factor of swallowing function (p <.01). Conclusion: The participants with dysphagia had worse oral health status compared to those without dysphagia, illustrating the critical importance of improving attention to oral health management in patients with post-stroke swallowing disorders. Relevance to clinical practice: Oral health was often omitted when comparing to other functional impairments resulting from stroke. Health caregivers of post-stroke patients with dysphagia should be aware of the importance of evaluating patient’s oral condition and implementing oral care.