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Sue Levkoff, ScD, MSW, SM

Endowed Chair, SeniorSMART Center of Economic Excellence

Making Change Happen

For Dr. Sue Levkoff, the best part of her job is the opportunity to collaborate with faculty from the many diverse schools and departments across the University. Dr. Levkoff’s research trajectory is interdisciplinary by nature: She has a background in social work and public health, and she was based in a medical school for much of her academic career. Her interdisciplinary framework is integral to the research she conducts as the Endowed Chair in SmartHOME, which promotes collaboration with faculty and post-docs from computer science and engineering, civil engineering, and the schools of medicine, pharmacy, and public health. 

Some of Dr. Levkoff’s most recent projects have included developing apps to improve AIDS medication adherence, creating culturally appropriate websites to assist Latino and Chinese family members caring for family members with dementia, and developing a program to prevent HIV/STDs and AIDS in women over 50, with a focus on African American and Latina women. 

She has a strong interest in population aging, and a commitment to contributing to the development of locally based programs and services to support an increasing aged society in the United States and abroad.  “I can’t really imagine doing something that is restricted to any one field or discipline.” she said.  “The big questions these days are too difficult for any one field to answer.”

Research Background

Trained in public health and social work, Dr. Levkoff is a social gerontologist who focuses on the reduction of health disparities for older populations through a combination of a range of information and related communication technologies to reduce disparities.  Dr. Levkoff conducts intervention research to test different mechanisms to enable “aging in place.” She uses a range of research methods, often conducting mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) in her studies, and focusing on mediating and moderating mechanisms that impact outcomes. She has conducted research on ethnic minority populations within the United States, as well as international research with researchers in Beijing (Peking University Institute of Mental Health), Wuhan (Wuhan University School of Public Health), and Hefei (Hefei Technology University) in China. Since 2006, she has served as Editor-in-Chief of the peer reviewed journal, Ageing International, published by Springer-Verlag, which is addressing challenges of global aging, and strategies for addressing them.

Research Projects (recent)

  • Diabetes Prevention in Women with a History of Recent Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) (2008-2012).  CDC-funded: 1U36HM000432-011).
  • Coordinating Telehealth Care Program for Rural Elders with Congestive Heart Failure (2010-2012). (National Heart Lungs and Blood Institute-funded SBIR: 1R43AG038210-10)
  • A sensor-based remote monitoring system to prevent falls in older adults (2010-2012).  (National Institute on Aging-funded SBIR: 1R43AG039214-01A1)
  • Self-Directed Online Training Program for Multicultural Dementia Caregivers (2011-2012). (National Institute on Aging-funded SBIR: 1R43AG041571-01)
  • Text messages for older African Americans with HIV (2012). National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities-funded SBIR: 1R43MD007161-01)

Selected Presentations

  • Rudolph JL, Inouye SK, Jones RN, Yang FM, Fong TG, Levkoff SE, Marcantonio ER. Delirium: an independent predictor of functional decline after cardiac surgery.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, (2010) Apr; 58(4):643-9.   PMID: 20345866; PMCID: PMC2856754
  • Chen H and Levkoff, SE.  (2010).  The Multiverse of Inquiry: Introduction to the Special Issue on “Dementia Care and Chinese Culture.” Ageing International, 2010 June1: 35(2):88-95. 128-139. PMCID: PMC3004230
  • Durai UN, Chopra MP, Coakley E, Llorente MD, Kirchner JE, Cook JM, Levkoff SE. (2011). Exposure to Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Older Veterans Attending Primary Care: Comorbid Conditions and Self-Rated Health Status.  J Am Geriatr Soc, 2011; 59(6):1087-92.  PMID: 21649614 

  • Nicklas JM, Seely EW, Zera CA, Abdul-Rahim ZS, Rudloff ND, Levkoff SE. (2011). Identifying novel approaches to preventing type 2 diabetes in women with a history of gestational diabetes. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, March 24; 11:23. PMID: 214352; PMCID: PMC3076295
  • Levkoff SE, Chen H, Norton M. Two Approaches to Developing Health Interventions for Ethnic Minority Elders: From Science to Practice and From Practice to Science (In Press, Handbook on Minority Aging).

Awards and Honors

  • 2012 APHA Aging and Public Health Section: Retirement Research Foundation Masters Student Research Award for paper, “Use of an online community to provide support to caregivers of people with
  • Dementia,” Marta Pagán, Dharma Cortés, Noelle Rudloff, and Sue Levkoff.
  • Second Prize for  “Sweet Dining Up to the Highest Age” contest at the July 2012 meeting of the International Society for Gerontechnology (ISG), Einhoven, The Netherlands, for a mobile app for Smart Shopping, developed in collaboration with graduate students in USC’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering for their CAPSTONE Project.  
  • Best Women's Health Poster at the National Conference for the Society of General Internal Medicine (May 2012). Nicklas JM, Miller LJ, Zera CA, Levkoff SE, Seely EW. “Factors associated with depressive symptoms at 6 weeks postpartum among women with recent gestational diabetes,” Nicklas JM, Miller LJ, Zera CA, Levkoff SE, Seely EW.
  • Certificate of Award for Loveandhelp.com – Third prize for poster presentation at the 1st Harvard America-China Health Summit (September 21-22) 2011, Boston MA, USA. E-technology Interventions for Chinese Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Hongtu Chen, Xin Lu, & Sue Levkoff.
  • SmartSTATE Endowed Chair in SmartHOME (2010-), College of Social Work, USC.
  • Visiting Chair in Gerontology (2008). Department of Gerontology, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • W.M. Keck – Howard Hughes Medical Institute Visiting Scholar (2002-2004). Department of Human Development, Connecticut College.
  • First Ashley Hall Crandall Close Bowles Professional Achievement Award, Charleston, SC (2000)
  • Fellow, Gerontological Society of America (GSA) (1999)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Central Boston Elder Services, Boston MA (1999)
  • Charter Fellow, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) (1979)

LevKoff S

Contact Information

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  • Office: 803.777.4521

pdf icon tinyCurriculum Vita

Major Classes Taught

  • SOWK 894: Planning & Design of Dissertation Research

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