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Research Summary

Dr. Shune’s research program is aimed at mitigating the deleterious effects of both healthy and pathologic aging on the eating process. Under- and malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, and declines in the rates of social interaction and social network size are prevalent and debilitating concerns for older adults. The shared mealtime provides a particularly potent opportunity to address the complex relationships between social interaction and health-relevant biopsychosocial symptoms and outcomes. Dr. Shune is focused on integrating the physiologic components of swallowing with a more comprehensive view of the mealtime process (e.g., cognition, communication, socialization/social relationships). Ultimately, she is interested in translating this research into clinical practices that can improve both safety and quality of life for patients and caregivers across the lifespan.