Elena Portacolone, PhD, MBA, MPH

ASST ADJ PROF-HCOMP
Campus Phone
Address Postal

3333 California Street, Rm 350J
UCSF Box 0646
San Francisco, CA 94118
United States

Biography
Dr. Portacolone is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Institute for Health and Aging at UCSF and a Pepper Center Scholar at the Division of Geriatric Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Portacolone is also an alumna of the Butler-Williams program at the National Institute on Aging and of the Health Disparities Institute at the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Dr. Portacolone completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Turin, Italy. After working in the corporate sector in the United Kingdom, she completed an MPH degree at School of Public Health at UC Berkeley, an MBA degree at the Haas Business at UC Berkeley, and a PhD in Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Science at UCSF.

Dr. Portacolone’s ultimate goal is to establish an interdisciplinary research program focused on the health, well-being, and the social integration of older adults living alone, with an emphasis on ethnic/racial minorities. Dr. Portacolone was recently awarded a K01 from the National Institute on Aging and a New Investigator Grant Award from the Alzheimer Association to better understand the needs of an ethnical/racial diverse sample of older Americans living alone with cognitive impairment. One aim of this investigation is to advance the area of health disparities in cognitive impairment, an area where knowledge is extremely limited.

An original contribution of Dr. Portacolone’s research was the introduction of the notion of “precariousness” into the sociology of aging. The word precariousness evokes an intrinsic sense of personal and structural insecurity. In the case of older Americans living alone, precariousness derives from their need to prove that they can “make” it alone, at a time in their life when they may need services that are too expensive, limited, or difficult to access. At the same time, they may experience a decline in their economic and social resources, as well as in their physical and cognitive abilities. At a cultural level, there is a current emphasis on encouraging elders to be “independent”, apparent in discourses on successful aging. This emphasis may actually serve as a deterrent among some older adults living alone in terms of seeking help, which in turn increases one’s subjective sense of precariousness. Another important trend in her research was a high prevalence of cognitive impairment, which was noted among 30% of participants and confirmed in the literature. Based on this observation, the focus of her current research is an evaluation of a diverse sample of older adults living alone with cognitive impairment.
Research Loan Repayment Program, National Institute on Aging, 2017
KL2 First-year Scholar, UCSF Clinical & Translational Science Institute, 2016
Silver Jubilee Scholarship, American Association University Women, 2010
Anselm Strauss Fellowship, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF, 2010
Carroll Estes Fellowship, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF, 2010
Graduate Dean’s Health Science Award, Graduate Division, UCSF, 2010
Virginia Olesen Fellowship, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF, 2009
Sigma Xi Scholarship, Sigma Xi, 2009
Soroptimist Fellowship, Soroptimist Association of Northern California, 2009
White Fellowship, UC Humanities Research Institute, 2009
Graduate Dean’s Health Science Award, Graduate Division, UCSF, 2008
Graduate Dean’s Health Science Award, Graduate Division, UCSF, 2007
Andrew Scholarship Fund, School of Nursing, UCSF, 2007
Sigma Xi Scholarship, Sigma Xi, 2007
Lynn Adamson Memorial Scholarship, Women Health Care Executives, 2007
Graduate Dean’s Health Science Award, Graduate Division, UCSF, 2006
Graduate Dean’s Health Science Award, Graduate Division, UCSF, 2005
LifeLong Medical Care Scholarship, LifeLong Medical Care, 2005
David Starkweather Fellowship in Health Services Management, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, 2003
Laurea, 1995 - Political Sciences, Universita’ degli Studi di Torino
Ageism
Intergenerational Relations
Community Mental Health Services
Housing For The Elderly
Social Adjustment
Cognitive Impairment
Living Arrangememts
Health Disparities
Aging In Place