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Dr. Ruth Finkelstein

Associate Director

Dr. Ruth Finkelstein translates interdisciplinary scientific knowledge on aging and its societal implications into policy-focused practice.


Ruth Finkelstein, ScD, translates interdisciplinary scientific knowledge on aging and its societal implications into policy-focused practice. She is Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, and she is Associate Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center. The goal of the her aging policy work is to maximize productivity, quality of life, and health across the life course. She also serves as director of ILC-USA. Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Finkelstein was the Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning at The New York Academy of Medicine, where she directed the Age-friendly New York City Initiative, which won the 2013 award for "The Best Existing Age Friendly Initiative in the World" from the International Federation on Ageing, as well as the Archstone Award for Excellence in Program Innovation from the American Public Health Association. In 2012, Ruth was named one of the nation's "Game Changers" by Metropolis Magazine for her leadership on the Age-friendly NYC initiative. She also directs the Age Smart Employer Awards program funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dr. Finkelstein has over thirty years experience in health policy, planning and research, focused on promoting health for vulnerable populations. As an expert in health care financing, HIV/AIDS care, and drug policy, she has led studies that motivated the integration of adherence support and drug treatment into HIV/AIDS care and also authored policy papers that helped provide a public health framework to overturn the Rockefeller drug laws in New York State. She has also provided technical assistance to other cities in the U.S. and around the world on planning, implementation, and evaluation of systems-level aging initiatives. She received her Doctor of Science from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Making Decisions on Elder Housing May Take a Team Effort
New York Times

July 10, 2015

Article exploring assisted living options as people age and the choices and challenges individuals and families face.

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The age-friendly new york city project: an environmental intervention to increase aging resilience
Resilience in Aging

2011As the growing body of research affirms, resilience in aging is a multidimensional concept influenced by demographics, social support and connectedness, health status, psychological factors, and material resources. Most, if not all, of these factors are ...

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Aging without Medicare? Evidence from New York City
INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing

2006Medicare and Social Security often are assumed to provide universal coverage for the population age 65 and older. Evidence from New York City raises doubts. Data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System, the Centers for Medicare and ...

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Millions of medical care dollars for indigents
Journal of Community Health

1983The medically indigent, a group traditionally underserved with health care, can obtain some needed free services from Hill-Burton facilities. These facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and agencies) received Hill-Burton funds for their building ...

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Area of Expertise

Active Ageing

Age Friendly Environments

Ageing in Place

Education and Training

Infectious Diseases

Lifelong Learning

Public Policy



The New York Academy of Medicine Elected Fellow

WHO Advisory Committee on Global Network of Age Friendly Communities

International Longevity Center

Gerontological Association of America

American Society on Aging


Health and Wellness

Public Policy


Writing and Editing


Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health : Health Policy

Case Western Reserve University : Anthropology

University of Michigan : Anthropology

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