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Photo of Elizabeth Helzner

Elizabeth Helzner, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Tel: (347) 557-1107 • Fax: (718) 270-2533


Academic Qualifications:

  • PhD: University of Pittsburgh

Background and Expertise:

Dr. Elizabeth Helzner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She received a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, and subsequently held postdoctoral fellowships in Aging Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, and in Neuroepidemiology at Columbia University.Dr. Helzner's research interests involve the epidemiology of aging and age-related conditions, specifically age-related hearing loss and Alzheimer's Disease.

Areas of Study:

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis):

Presbycusis is an extremely common age-related condition, yet few population-based studies have been conducted to describe its epidemiology. Previous studies of mainly white participants suggest that noise exposure and factors affecting vascular flow (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and smoking, among others) contribute to age-related hearing loss.In studies of white and African-American elders enrolled in the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) study, I found that hearing loss was more prevalent among whites (62.1%) than African-Americans (56.6%), despite a higher prevalence of many risk factors for hearing loss among African-Americans. Further, the relative associations between hearing loss and vascular risk factors such as stroke and diabetes appeared stronger among whites.My ongoing research interests in presbycusis include the interplay between hearing sensitivity and vascular factors, middle ear function in older adults, and how race/ethnic differences in hearing sensitivity might be explained by genetic factors and possible gene-environment interactions.

Alzheimer's Disease

My secondary research interest is in examining factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease progression. Using data from the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project, I have studied correlates of mortality and rates of cognitive decline among patients with AD. In particular, I am interested in variability in the rates of cognitive decline in AD as a function of vascular risk factors.

Selected Publications

  • Purchase-Helzner EL, Cauley JA, Faulkner KA, Pratt S, Zmuda JM, Talbott EO, Hochberg MC, Stone K, Newman A.Hearing sensitivity, falls and fracture in older women: The Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.Annals of Epidemiology 2004; 14:311-318.
  • Helzner EP, Cauley JA, Pratt SR, Wisniewski S, Talbott EO, Zmuda JM, Harris TB, Rubin S, Taaffe DR, Tylavsky FA, Newman AB. Hearing sensitivity and bone mineral density in older adults:The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.Osteoporosis International 2005; 16:1675-1682.
  • Helzner EP, Cauley JA, Pratt SR, Wisniewski S, Zmuda JM, Talbott EO, de Rekeniere N, Harris T, Rubin S, Simonsick EM, Tylavsky FA, Newman AB.Race and gender differences in hearing sensitivity: The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2005; 53 (12): 2119-2127.
  • Helzner EP, Cauley JA, Pratt SR, Wisniewski SR, Zmuda JM, Talbott EO. Race and sex differences in age-related hearing loss: The health, aging and body composition study. Noise Health 2006;8:62
  • Helzner EP, Scarmeas N, Cosentino S, Portet F, Stern Y. Leisure activity and cognitive decline in incident Alzheimer’s Disease. Archives of Neurology 2007; 64 (12):1749-1754.
  • Helzner EP, Scarmeas N, Cosentino S, Tang M-X, Stern Y. Survival after Diagnosis of Alzheimers Disease: Results from a population based study of incident cases.Neurology 2008; 71 (19):1489-95
  • Helzner EP, Luchsinger J, Scarmeas N, Cosentino S, Brickman A, Glymour MM, Stern Y.Vascular risk factors and disease progression in Alzheimer’s Disease. Archives of Neurology2009;66(3):343-348.