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Hazel E. Reed Human Development Professor and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine, Cornell University

Dr. Karl Pillemer is the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development, Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Senior Associate Dean for Research and Outreach in the College of Human Ecology. Pillemer also directs the Cornell Legacy Project ( and is author of the book 30 Lessons for Living (

His major interests center on human development over the life course, with a special emphasis on family and social relationships in middle age and beyond. He has a strong theoretical and empirical interest in life course transitions and the effects they have on family relationships. A major program of research is on intergenerational relations in later life, with a focus on determinants and consequences of the quality of adult child - older parent relationships.

Dr. Pillemer has conducted a large-scale study of this issue, with funding from the National Institute on Aging, which focuses on within-family differences in parent-child relations in later life and on ambivalence in intergenerational relations among adults. He is currently examining the causes and consequences of estrangement in families. A second major program of research focuses on the nature and dynamics of family caregiving for impaired older people, which he has been carrying out over the past two decades with funding from the National Institutes of Health and other sources. A third area is in long-term care for the elderly, with a focus on the relationships between family members of residents with staff in long-term care facilities. Fourth, Dr. Pillemer has a long-term program of research on conflict and abuse in families of the aged, including several related studies of the domestic and institutional abuse of older persons.

Finally, he is actively involved in intervention research and in policy analysis related to aging and health care, with an emphasis on evidence-based methods of developing a competent, caring long-term care workforce. His extension and outreach work involves translational research, exploring ways to speed the transfer of findings from basic research into scientifically tested interventions.


  • –present
    Professor of Human Development and Gerontology , Cornell University