December 1, 2014

In support of research on aging

As the population of older adults grows globally, Jill and Michael Kafrissen want to bring more resources to meet the many challenges that come with aging.

Their concern is evidenced in their professional lives. Jill Kafrissen, LCSW, has broad experience in social work, legislative advocacy and philanthropic activities. Michael Kafrissen, MD, MSPH, who has had a long career in public health and pharmaceuticals, is currently chief executive officer of STE Health International LLC, director of research and innovation for UNC-Chapel Hill’s World Health Organization Collaboration Center, based in the Gillings School’s maternal and child health department, and a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. The AgeLab invents and translates technologies to address the practical issues of aging.

In 2010, the Kafrissens arranged for a generous legacy gift from their estate. Now, they have provided a new gift to fund scholarships for students with leadership potential who are committed to addressing issues of aging.

“While there are many areas of need in public health,” Jill says, “this gift is an effort to support aging research and highlight the need for more study in the area. Aging is a universal reality that will benefit from our best thinking, now and in the future, and the Gillings School is and will be an important source of these benefits. Our conversations with Dean Rimer and other School leaders have confirmed for us the School’s commitment to innovative solutions and a sustainable and valuable program.”

Michael Kafrissen also serves as a member of the Gillings School’s advisory council and adjunct professor in maternal and child health. He was a key player, through the MIT Agelab and in partnership with Cambridge University, in the Gillings School’s first international summit on aging issues, held in February 2014. (See He earned his master’s degree from the School in 1981.

—Elizabeth Witherspoon

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