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Walter Dawson

Oregon Health & Science University / Portland State University

Walter Dawson

Walter Dawson is a lifelong advocate for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners. Dawson is an Assistant Professor at the Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine in Portland, Oregon and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute with the University of California, San Francisco and Trinity College Dublin. He also holds an appointment at Portland State University’s Institute on Aging, where he is the primary investigator (PI) for the multi-year evaluation of Oregon’s Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative (OABHI).

Dawson has extensive experience in U.S. state and national policy. As staff at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, he worked on provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) focused on increasing access to home and community-based services for older adults and people living with disabilities. More recently, Dawson was appointed Chair of the Oregon Governor’s Commission on Senior Services. Dawson received his doctorate in social policy from the University of Oxford and holds a masters from the London School of Economics.


Countries United States;
Topics Care inequalities; Community-based LTC; Dementia care and support; Financing LTC; LTC and people with mental health conditions; LTC Policy; LTC Reforms; LTC Workforce; Stigma and discrimination; Unpaid / informal care;
Methods Co-production methods; Comparative policy analysis; Document analysis; Literature reviews and synthesis; Mixed methods; Policy analysis; Qualitative studies; Surveys; Trials and other evaluations;
Role Research;
Interest Groups Community-based approaches to dementia care;
Other 1;
Other 2;
Research interests

Global health policy, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), brain health, brain health diplomacy, financial impacts of dementia, long-term services and supports financing, caregiving, screening and detection of cognitive impairment, advocacy for more equitable financing systems for AD and dementia care.

Key publications

Dawson W, Smith E, Booi L, Mosse M, Lavretsky H, Reynolds CF, Cummings J, Brannally P, Hynes W, Lenze EJ, Manes F, Ayadi R, Frank L, Chapman SB, Robertson IH, Rubenstein L, Jraissati J, Ibañez A, Fillit H, Jeste DV, Rao A, Berk M, Storch EA, Chadha AS, and Eyre H (2022). Investing in Late-Life Brain Capital. Innovations in Aging, 6(3): igac016. PMID: 35602311.

Dawson W and Comas-Herrera A (2022). International Dementia Policies and Legacies of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic. Public Policy & Aging Report, 32(2), 72-76.

Dawson W, Graham C, Smith E, Bennett V, Lee C, Ling G, Chapman SB, Miller BL, Insel T, Herbert B, Brune R and Eyre H (2021). Build Brains Better: A Proposal for a White House Brain Capital Council to Accelerate Post-COVID Recovery and Resilience. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. December 22, 2021.

Stodola A, Kyler-Yano J, Hasworth S, Winfree J, and Dawson W (2021). Supporting the Behavioral Health of Older Adults: Evaluating a Multi-Site, Multi-Actor, Multi-Agency Initiative. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 41(4): 1011–1019.

Smith E, Ali D, Wilkerson B, Dawson W, Sobowale K, Reynolds C, Berk M, Lavretsky H, Jeste D, Ng C, Soares J, Aragam G, Wainer Z, Manji H, Licinio J, Lo A, Storch E, Fu E, Leboyer M, Tarnanas I, Ibañez A, Manes F, Caddick S, Fillit H, Abbott R, Robertson I, Chapman S, Au R, Altimus C, Hynes W, Brannelly P, Cummings J, and Eyre H (2021). A Brain Capital Grand Strategy: Towards Economic Reimagination. Molecular Psychiatry, 26(1):3-22. PMID: 33100330.

Dawson W, Boucher N, Stone R, and Van Houtven C (2021). COVID-19: The Time for Collaboration between Long-Term Services and Supports, Health Care Systems and Public Health is Now. The Milbank Quarterly, 99(2):565-594. PMID: 33590920.

Dawson W, Bobrow K, Ibañez A, Booi L, Pintado-Caipa M, Yamamoto S, Tarnanas I, Evans T, Comas- Herrera A, Cummings J, Kaye J, Yaffe K, Miller B, and Eyre H (2020). The Necessity of Diplomacy in Brain Health. The Lancet Neurology, 19(12):972–974. PMID: 33212057.

Boucher N, Van Houtven C, and Dawson W (2020). Older Adults Post-Incarceration: Restructuring Long-Term Services and Supports in the Time of COVID-19. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 22(3): 504-509. PMID: 33189565.

Van Houtven C and Dawson W (2020). Medicare and Home Health: Taking Stock During the COVID-19 Era. Issue Brief. Commonwealth Fund. October 21, 2020.