Richard Besdine

Richard Besdine
Professor, Medicine
Professor, Health Services Policy & Practice


Richard W. Besdine, MD, is currently Professor of Medicine, Director of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Chief of Geriatrics for Lifespan, and first Greer Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University; he is Professor of Health Services Policy and Practice, and former Director of the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research at the Brown School of Public Health.  Dr. Besdine served as Interim Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences of Brown Medical School (2002-2005). He is Medical Officer of the American Federation for Aging Research in New York City. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island – the State’s Medicaid plan. He is past President and chair of Board of Directors of the American Geriatrics Society. He also is an elected board member and secretary/treasurer of the Association of Directors of Academic Geriatrics Programs. He was selected as Morgagni Lecturer at the University of Padua during the 250th Anniversary celebration (2011) of the publication of Giovanni Battista Morgagni’s famous book “De sedibus et causis morborum per anatomen indagatis (On the Sites and Causes of Diseases as Investigated by Anatomy)” (1761).

Dr. Besdine has created innovative recruitment and training programs for future leaders in the field of geriatrics, and trained more than 140 faculty geriatricians while leader of the three geriatrics programs he founded; he has been listed in all editions of Best Doctors in America for academic internal medicine and geriatrics.  He has authored more than 125 scholarly publications on aging, and edits widely in medicine.  Before coming to Brown in 2000, he was Professor of Medicine, founding Director of the UConn Center on Aging and first Travelers Professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at the U of CT Health Center School of Medicine. He was also Principal Investigator of a NIH Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, and oversaw studies of interventions to prolong vitality in elders.  Prior to going to CT in 1986, he was on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 15 years.  During that time, he co-founded Harvard's Division on Aging with John W. Rowe, M.D., one of the country’s first academic Geriatrics programs.

Dr. Besdine spent 1995-1999 in Federal service; he was first Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Health Standards and Quality Bureau for the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA, now CMS), responsible for setting standards, inspection, enforcement and improvement of health care quality for the nation’s then-70 million Medicare beneficiaries and Medicaid recipients.  As HSQB Director, he had responsibility for 750 staff and a $960 million annual budget. 

A graduate of Haverford College (cum laude) and of U of PA School of Medicine, he trained in Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Immunology at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Besdine trained in Geriatrics at the University of Glasgow in 1972 with Sir Ferguson Anderson.  He is board certified in internal medicine, geriatrics and infectious disease.