What are the Secrets of a Long and Healthy
Study Seeks Long-Lived Families for Answers
More and more people are living longer. But living to extreme
old age is unusual and tends to run in some families. A new study,
supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), aims to learn more about the
secrets to long healthy life, and investigators are seeking long-lived
families to help study this important question.
In coming weeks, researchers in three regions — near Boston,
New York and Pittsburgh — will be contacting older people
to see if they and their families might be eligible and willing
to participate in the Long Life Family Study. The study is looking
for families with two or more healthy brothers and sisters who
have lived to old age and can be interviewed in person.
"We’re interested in finding out why some families age so
well,"said Winifred K. Rossi, deputy director of NIA’s Division
of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology and the NIA program official
for the study. "By sharing information about their lives and
families with us, participants may help improve the health of future
generations — including their own children and grandchildren — by
giving us clues to the secrets of healthy longevity."
"We aim to enroll as many families with as many long-lived
members as possible,"Rossi continued "The more families
and the larger the size of each family enrolled, the better the
chance we can find meaningful results. We are seeking study participants
primarily from the regions near the three study centers, but we
have the ability to interview participants’ family members who
live in other parts of the country so that their information can
Trained clinical staff will meet with study participants in their
communities to ask questions about their family and health history
and conduct some physical assessments and health screening tests.
Participants will also be asked for a small blood sample to obtain
genetic information. Genetic and health information will be kept
strictly confidential. Investigators plan to stay in touch with
the families to determine if other family members and their children
live longer than usual.
The current study recruitment builds on efforts during an earlier
phase of the research, in which several hundred families took part.
It is critical to include a large number of additional families
so that the most thorough analyses can be done. "The families
who have so generously given of their time so far have told us
that they are proud of their long-lived families and are happy
to be part of this effort,"Rossi noted. "We are most
appreciative of their time and of their interest — and that
of future participants."The study’s lead researchers, prominent
in longevity and genetic research, are:
- Thomas Perls, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New England Centenarian
Study and Associate Professor of Medicine, Geriatrics Section,
Department of Medicine, Boston University;
- Richard Mayeux, M.D., M.Sc., Gertrude H. Sergievsky Professor
of Neurology, Psychiatry and Epidemiology, Columbia University
Medical Center and director of the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center
and co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's
Disease and the Aging Brain, New York;
- Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and
Medicine, Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh;
- James W. Vaupel, Ph.D., executive director of the Max Planck
Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, and director
of the Program on Population, Policy and Aging at the Terry Sanford
Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, N. C.;
- Kaare Christensen, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology,
Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark
and senior research scientist at the Terry Sanford Institute
of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, N. C. and,
- Michael A. Province, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics and Biostatistics,
and director of the Division of Statistical Genomics in the Genome
Sciences Center, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
Individuals who live within a two- to three-hour driving radius
of Pittsburgh, Boston or New York City are invited to call the
study coordinating center at 1-877-362-2074 to see if they are
eligible to participate. Study centers include Boston University,
the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. Additional
information about the study is available at www.longlifefamilystudy.org.
Editor’s note: Reporters who wish to interview
Long Life Family Study investigators at the local study sites should
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research
on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older
people. For more information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic,
clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates
the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.