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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Pitt Forms New Center To Accelerate Global Research And Outreach Efforts On Healthy Aging

PITTSBURGH, September 27, 2006 — Striving to apply recent scientific advances in understanding the determinants of healthy aging, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) has announced the formation of a new Center for Aging and Population Health (CAPH), which will be led by Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology and medicine, GSPH. Internationally renowned for her work in the epidemiology of aging, longevity and disability, Dr. Newman has established that the potential for healthy aging far exceeds previous expectations.

“Previously, aging research focused on preventing advanced disability. However, we and others recently have found important medical, behavioral and genetic determinants of healthy aging without major disability. Yet, the potential for substantially reducing disease and disability in our elderly population is far from being realized. By forming this center, our goal is to leverage what we know about successful aging and make it possible for a large segment of the U.S. and global population to reach that potential,” said Dr. Newman.

To accomplish this goal, CAPH will incorporate several entities within GSPH’s department of epidemiology, including the Center for Healthy Aging, the Health Studies Office and the Epidemiology of Aging training program. The Center for Healthy Aging, which is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducts health promotion and disease prevention activities targeted toward the older adult population. The Health Studies Office is a clinical research facility for conducting large epidemiological studies and clinical trials. It serves as the field laboratory for trainees in GSPH’s Epidemiology of Aging program, which focuses on research to determine factors that cause disability and premature death in older adults and methods for preventing them.

According to Roberta Ness, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair, department of epidemiology, GSPH, the formation of CAPH allows for better collaboration between these entities. In addition, it gives the aging researchers in the department access to greater resources and collaborations both within the University of Pittsburgh and with researchers at other institutions, nationally and internationally.

“Establishing this center allows us to link population-based research with new techniques in genetics, imaging and advanced laboratory diagnostics available here at Pitt and at other institutions. In addition, CAPH will allow the department of epidemiology to expand its current research programs on aspects of healthy aging and the genetics of longevity and exceptional survival as well as investigations into the determinants of aging in the brain and cardiovascular system,” she explained.

To extend its global reach, CAPH plans to collaborate with research institutions in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, which are the world’s fastest aging regions. Indeed, recent projections estimate that the percentage of elderly living in these developing regions of the world will double in the next 20 to 30 years. Without adequate preparation, less developed countries—which already have overburdened health care systems and few social safety nets—will have difficulty meeting the health care needs of their growing elderly populations. Therefore, they need better resources and information on how to help people age successfully.

“Our country has had a long time to learn how to deal with its aging population. However, this phenomenon is just beginning in many developing countries and at a much faster rate. Given what we have learned, we have the opportunity to help them prepare for how to deal with this problem,” said Donald S. Burke, M.D., dean of GSPH, Pitt’s vice chancellor for global health and the UPMC-Jonas Salk Professor of Global Health.

One of the first initiatives of the new center will be to hold an international, invitation-only symposium on the topic of successful aging. According to Dr. Newman, the primary goal of the symposium will be to gather new knowledge from current national and international population studies on aging.

“We plan to invite aging researchers from around the world to assess both where we are and where we need to go. Ultimately, we hope this conference will set forth new research goals for learning how to deal with the global aging issue,” she said.

For more information on GSPH’s department of epidemiology, go to www.epidemiology.pitt.edu.

Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, GSPH is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. One of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, GSPH was the first fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with alumni who are among the leaders in their fields of public health. A member of the Association of Schools of Public Health, GSPH currently ranks third among schools of public health in National Institutes of Health funding received. The only school of public health in the nation with a chair in minority health, GSPH is a leader in research related to women’s health, HIV/AIDS and human genetics, among others. For more information about GSPH, visit the GSPH Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

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