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


The Association Between Trajectories of Perceived Unmet Needs for Home and Community-Based Services and Life Satisfaction Among Chinese Older Adults: The Moderating Effect of Psychological Resilience

Wang, H., Liu, H., Wu, B., & Hai, L. (2024). Research on Aging, 46(2), 139-152. 10.1177/01640275231203608
This study examined whether trajectories of perceived unmet needs for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) were associated with life satisfaction among Chinese older adults and whether the association was moderated by psychological resilience. Data came from five waves (2005-2018) of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). Latent class growth analysis revealed three distinct trajectories of perceived unmet HCBS needs: “increasing” (n = 977, 36.24%), “persistent” (n = 570, 21.14%), and “decreasing” (n = 1149, 42.62%). Multiple regression estimates showed that the increasing group was associated with lower life satisfaction, and the association was moderated by psychological resilience, especially for older adults who were male, living in rural, and oldest-old. Results indicate that inequalities in cumulative exposure to perceived unmet HCBS needs may further lead to increasing inequalities in life satisfaction. Interventions focused on minimizing the provision-need gap of HCBS and enhancing personal resilience should be considered to improve the life satisfaction of older adults.

The informal discussion of advance care planning among Chinese older adults: Do education and social media use matter?

Pei, Y., Qi, X., Zhu, Z., Zhang, W., Tsay, R. M., & Wu, B. (2024). Geriatric Nursing, 55, 1-5. 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2023.10.023
This study aimed to examine and compare the associations between education, social media use, and advance care planning (ACP) discussion among Chinese older adults in mainland China (Wuhan), Taiwan (Taichung), and the United States (Honolulu). Community-dwelling older adults (≥ 55) were recruited from 2017 to 2018. The ACP discussion rate in Wuhan, Taichung, and Honolulu were 15.2 %, 19.2 %, and 31.3 %, respectively. Logistic regression models revealed that education was positively associated with ACP discussion in Taichung and Honolulu. Social media use was positively associated with ACP discussions in Wuhan and Honolulu, and it attenuated the association between education and ACP discussion in Honolulu. The present study contributes to previous studies by comparing the associations between education, social media use, and ACP discussion in different settings within the same ethnicity. Policy and practice implications were also discussed.

The Moderating Role of Self-Rated Oral Health on the Association Between Oral Health Status and Subjective Well-Being: Findings From Chinese Older Adults in Hawaiʻi and Taiwan

Zhang, K., Wu, B., Tsay, R. M., Wu, L. H., & Zhang, W. (2024). Research on Aging, 46(1), 3-14. 10.1177/01640275231158771
This paper aims to address the research questions of whether individual’s oral health status is associated with subjective well-being, as well as if there is possible moderating role of self-rated oral health among two groups of Chinese older adults (≥55 years old) in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi and Taichung, Taiwan. Using survey data collected in 2018 (N = 430, Honolulu) and in 2017 (N = 645, Taichung), ordinary least square regressions were applied. Results showed that, for both samples, oral health status was negatively and significantly associated with subjective well-being, and both associations were moderated by self-rated oral health. In addition, the moderating effects were more salient for the Honolulu sample, who enjoyed higher levels of self-rated oral health and life satisfaction. These results suggest the significant associations of both oral health status and self-rated oral health on individual health and well-being for Chinese older adults residing in different cultural contexts.

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.

Age and Sex Differences in the Associations Among Socioeconomic Status, Affective Reactivity to Daily Stressors, and Physical Health in the MIDUS Study

Jiang, Y., Knauft, K. M., Richardson, C. M., Chung, T., Wu, B., & Zilioli, S. (2023). Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 57(11), 942-950. 10.1093/abm/kaad034
Background Low socioeconomic status (SES) is robustly associated with increased risks of morbidity and mortality. Affective reactivity to daily stressors has been proposed to be a mediator for this association. However, few longitudinal studies have empirically tested the indirect effect of SES on health through affective reactivity to daily stressors. Purpose This study aimed to test the indirect effect of SES on physical health via affective reactivity to daily stressors over a 10-year period and to explore age and sex differences in such indirect effect. Methods Data were drawn from a subsample of 1,522 middle-aged and older adults (34-83 years of age, 57.2% female, 83.5% White) from the Midlife in the United States study. SES (i.e., education, household income, indicators of financial distress) was assessed in 2004-2006. Affective reactivity to daily stressors was computed using data collected during the 8-day daily stress assessment in 2004-2009. Self-reported physical health conditions were assessed in 2004-2006 and 2013-2014. Results There was a significant indirect effect of lower SES on more physical health conditions via elevated negative affective reactivity to daily stressors among women but not men. The indirect effect of SES on physical health conditions via negative affective reactivity to daily stressors was consistent across the middle and older adulthood. Conclusions Our findings suggest that negative affective reactivity to daily stressors might be a key intermediate process contributing to persistent SES disparities in physical health, particularly among women.

Aging and Oral Health: Biological and Sociobehavioral Perspectives

Colombo, A. P., & Wu, B. (2023). Journal of Dental Research, 102(8), 841-843. 10.1177/00220345231181885
As the life expectancy and growth of the aging population increase globally, efforts to promote healthy longevity become more important. Holistic policy guidelines and actions have been designed to advocate and fortify healthy aging at multiple levels. Oral health, a fundamental contributor of overall health and well-being, forms a core part of the noncommunicable disease agenda within the sustainable development goals set by the World Health Organization. Aging significantly heightens the risk of myriad oral disorders and other noncommunicable diseases. As of 2019, oral disorders accounted for 8.9 million disability-adjusted life-years in individuals older than 60 y. In addition to the development of multidisciplinary aging-friendly policies to promote healthy aging, basic biology and translational research has been encouraged that focuses on deciphering the underlying mechanisms involved in age-related physical and cognitive decline or dysregulation of oral tissues. Given the relevance of oral health aging as a critical component of the One Health Initiative, this special issue encompasses a collection of articles dedicated to recent advances in the behavioral and social implications of age-related oral diseases and tooth loss on several aspects of the quality of life of adults as they age. Furthermore, it includes articles detailing molecular mechanisms associated with cellular aging and their implications for oral tissue health, periodontal disease severity, and the regenerative potential of stem cells.

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 perceived risk of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and cognitive function among U.S. older adults

Wang, N., Xu, H., West, J. S., Østbye, T., Wu, B., Xian, Y., & Dupre, M. E. (2023). Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 115. 10.1016/j.archger.2023.105126
Introduction: The aim of the study was to assess factors associated with the perceived risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) and how the perceived risk of ADRD was related to cognitive function. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using 5 waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study (2012–2022) that included adults aged 65 years or older with no previous diagnosis of ADRD at baseline. Cognitive function was measured at baseline and over time using a summary score that included immediate/delayed word recall, serial 7′s test, objective naming test, backwards counting, recall of the current date, and naming the president/vice-president (range = 0–35). Perceived risk of developing ADRD was categorized at baseline as “definitely not” (0% probability), “unlikely” (1–49%), “uncertain” (50%), and “more than likely” (>50–100%). Additional baseline measures included participants’ sociodemographic background, psychosocial resources, health behaviors, physiological status, and healthcare utilization. Results: Of 1457 respondents (median age 74 [IQR = 69–80] and 59.8% women), individuals who perceived that they were “more than likely” to develop ADRD had more depressive symptoms and were more likely to be hospitalized in the past two years than individuals who indicated that it was “unlikely” they would develop ADRD. Alternatively, respondnets who perceived that they would "definitely not" develop ADRD were more likely to be non-Hispanic Black, less educated, and have lower income than individuals who indicated it was “unlikely” they would develop ADRD. Respondents who reported their risks of developing ADRD as “more than likely” (β = −2.10, P < 0.001) and “definitely not” (β = −1.50, P < 0.001) had the lowest levels of cognitive function; and the associations were explained in part by their socioeconomic, psychosocial, and health status. Conclusions: Perceived risk of developing ADRD is associated with cognitive function. The (dis)concordance between individuals’ perceived risk of ADRD and their cognitive function has important implications for increasing public awareness and developing interventions to prevent ADRD.