Waite directs NORC's Center on Demography and Economics of Aging, which provides support to more than 30 researchers working in the areas of social relationships, living arrangements, and family; the social context of aging; health care research; and biobehavioral pathways. The Center is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging.
In 2008, Waite became the recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) award. MERIT awards are among the most selective research grants given by the NIH, with less than 5 percent of NIH-funded investigators selected as recipients. MERIT awards provide long-term support to outstanding, experienced investigators. The awards recognize researchers who have demonstrated superior competence and outstanding productivity in research endeavors of special importance or promise.
Waite's work on biomarkers and pharmaceutical data on population-based aging research has yielded groundbreaking knowledge about the sexual behavior of older Americans as part of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), the project for which she received the MERIT Award.
Waite is also the Lucy Flower Professor in Sociology and the College at the University of Chicago. She also serves as Co-Director of the University of Chicago's MD/PhD Program in Medicine, the Social Sciences, and Aging; and chairs the Committee on Demographic Training at the University of Chicago and NORC.