• Dr. Ellen Brown is the Erica Wertheim Zohar Chair in Community Mental Health for the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

    Dr. Brown’s long-standing program of research focuses on the emotional health and well-being of community-dwelling older adults; the mental welfare of those who provide their care; and support for the choice of older adults to age in place. She has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and most recently, the National Institutes of Health.

    In September 2020, The National Institute on Aging awarded $1.6 million to Dr. Brown, her FIU based research team, and researchers from the University of Alabama to design touch-screen technology to improve communication between dementia patients and their caregivers. The 5-year R01 project title is “Integration of Health Information Technology and Promotion of Personhood in Family-Centered Dementia Care.” The new interface will be customizable and grounded in evidence on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and touchscreen-use by persons with dementia. The AAC will be developed to compensate for the persons’ communication deficits by using photographs, graphics and text to promote engagement of the person with dementia, promote personhood, and offer providers access to real-time, tracked behavioral trends that support early detection, intervention, and monitoring of community dwelling older adults. Dr. Nicole Ruggiano, Associate Professor at the University of Alabama is the Co-PI for this project. Full details about the clinical trial can be found here. (

    The project builds on Dr. Brown’s and the team’s earlier work developing “Care Heroes,” a multi-function app designed to support caregivers and improve dementia care coordination including communication between healthcare providers and caregivers. Dr. Brown and her colleagues previously received a Florida State appropriation and federal funding (AHRQ R21 HS026571) to develop and test Care Heroes.

    Dr. Brown’ scholarly work has been presented nationally and internationally and she is the author of more than 60 articles appearing in multiple high impact journals. Dr. Brown is an elected member of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). The nursing intervention developed by Dr. Brown and colleagues, “Training in the Assessment of Depression” (TRIAD), established efficacious and effective, received national recognition from the AANs’ Raise the Voice Edge Runner Program. Dr. Brown is a founding editorial board member of the journal Research in Gerontological Nursing and an editorial board member of the Journal of Applied Gerontology.

    She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Rhode Island, her Master in Nursing in Adult Health from Columbia University, a secondary Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from Cornell University, and her Doctorate of Education from Columbia University.

research interests

  • Dementia; Older Adult Health; Gerontological Nursing; Aging Research; Depression in Older Adults

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full name

  • Ellen Brown


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