Top 100 Women of Impact: Jeanne Y. Wei, MD, Ph.D.

Jeanne Y. Wei, MD, Ph.D.

Director, UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging
Chair, UAMS Department of Geriatrics

About me: One Thanksgiving evening, my family and I were walking home from a neighbor’s house after the holiday dinner. My mother and sister were struck by an automobile, flew up in the air and landed 30 feet away. My mother suffered many broken bones, and my sister was in a coma for many days. I was not allowed to visit them in the hospital because I was underage. Each day after school, I would walk along the street past my mother’s hospital room where we would share smiles and waves to each other from her window. It is because of this unfortunate event that I chose to go into medicine, in pursuit of finding ways to provide care and reduce illness for those who need help.

Lives/Works in: Little Rock

Lesson Learned the Hard Way: During my second year of medical school, my dad became ill and died. His love of life inspired me as I learned about terminal illness, limitations of medical care, the doctor-patient relationship and counseling and support of family members during the process of peacefully letting go when it is time. 

Proudest Moment of Impact: We put Arkansas and the Institute on Aging on the map nationally when we received funding from the NIH for the Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, one of only 12 out of 145 medical schools in the U.S. We have research programs in frailty, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. We sponsor among the largest academic outpatient geriatrics clinics. We promote one of the first programs in the country combating the opioid crisis in older adults. 

What Keeps Me Motivated: The health care needs of older adults are growing. Our clinic serves many patients. While it gives me satisfaction to know that we are making a difference in their lives through clinical care, education, research and service, it humbles me to appreciate how much more we can and must still do.

A Women’s Foundation of Arkansas Initiative

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