MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2003

Sarah H. Kagan

Gerontological Nurse

Associate Professor of Gerontological Nursing

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Age: 41

Published October 5, 2003
Portrait of Sarah H. Kagan

Sarah Kagan is a nurse scholar with a commitment to clinical excellence, a passion for original scholarship, a dedication to teaching, and a singular ability to meld all three in the interest of older, frail, and vulnerable cancer patients. In an era when health care systems show ever-increasing signs of strain, characterized by nursing shortages, physician overload, and consumer bewilderment, Kagan surfaces as an energetic and creative countervailing force. In Older Adults Coping with Cancer, she challenges ingrained preconceptions about the treatment of older patients, providing a framework for understanding their heterogeneity of responses to cancer. As practicing nurse, Kagan applies these insights to improve medical delivery and outcomes by recognizing that elderly cancer patients respond to treatment differently (sometimes substantially) from younger patients, not only because of physiologic changes but also because of psychosocial factors that shape their experience of the disease. As researcher, Kagan gives shape to and participates in a variety of collaborative research projects of elderly head and neck cancer patients. As master teacher, she inspires new students to think differently about nursing and to venture beyond the comfortable. Still quite young, Kagan is fast becoming an exemplar of a new generation of nurse and is widely sought for her expertise in clinical gerontology at home and abroad.

Sarah Kagan received an A.B. (1984) from the University of Chicago, a B.S. (1986) from Rush University, and an M.S. (1989) and a Ph.D (1994) from the University of California, San Francisco. She is currently Associate Professor of Gerontological Nursing, Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Fellow at the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania. Kagan also hold a secondary appointment in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. Kagan is the author of Older Adults Coping with Cancer: Integrating Cancer into a Life Mostly Lived (1997) and was a column editor for the American Journal of Nursing. Kagan is a member of the Gerontological Society of America, the Society of Head and Neck Nurses, and the Oncology Nursing Society.


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

Sarah H. Kagan In the Media

"Combing Through the Myths of Nursing Homes" thumbnail

"Combing Through the Myths of Nursing Homes"

Beaver County Times
Sarah H. Kagan , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
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"Who Are You Calling Old? It's Only a State of Mind"

Bucks County Courier Times
Sarah H. Kagan , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
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About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

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Review Affirms Impact and Inspiration of MacArthur Fellows Program thumbnail

Review Affirms Impact and Inspiration of MacArthur Fellows Program

“We are proud of the Fellows Program and its impact on the lives of not just those selected but people all over the world." Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows program. Read More
"Five Myths About the MacArthur ‘Genius Grants’" thumbnail

"Five Myths About the MacArthur ‘Genius Grants’"

Commentary by Cecilia Conrad originally published in the Washington Post Read More