The candidate is a junior scholar who has been actively committed to the study of marriage and health links. The motivation for this project is to utilize the proposed biomedical training along with the candidate's accrued knowledge and research experience in marriage and health to develop an innovative, integrative approach to understand the biological process of marital relationships that affect health. A K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award in Aging Research will enable the candidate to achieve the following career goals: 1) to apply the interdisciplinary biodemographic training gained during the award period in promoting scientific understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms linking marital relationship and health;2) to develop an interdisciplinary model for studying the interactions of biological and social processes through which marital relationships affect health over the life course;and 3) to initiate interdisciplinary dialogue and program development for training scholars in the social and biological interactions that contribute to marital links to health. The scientific environment is ideal to strengthen this research. Committed mentor faculty and support staff, excellent computing and IT resources, and recognized academic excellence combine to support the candidate's success. The training plan incorporates both introductory and more advanced levels of coursework on human physiology, human biology of cardiovascular system, biodemography and biomedical research methods. The mentors, biodemographer Linda Waite and biomedical scientist Donna Wang will supervise the candidate's training and scholarly development. The consulting team, composed of a social psychologist (Professor Clifford Broman), a biological anthropologist (Professor Thomas McDade), a biological psychologist (Professor Joseph Lonstein) and a biostatistician (Professor Wenjiang Fu) will provide guidance and advice on various theoretical, methodological and research design issues. Through the training, the candidate will gain the biological science expertise that is necessarily to achieve the following specific project aims:
Aim 1) to examine how marital biography is related to biological risks as reflected in cardiovascular function among older adults;
Aim 2) to assess how marital quality is related to biological risks as reflected in cardiovascular function among older adults;
Aim 3) to develop a dyadic model to study how spouses'cardiovascular biological risks are related to each other;
and Aim 4) to explore age and gender differences in Aims 1-3. The expected outcomes will set the stage for advancing biodemographic approaches to integrate demographic and biological theory and methods and provide an innovative tool for studying other biological responses to marriage and other marriage-like relationships (e.g., same-sex and different-sex cohabitation) at the R01 level. The analysis will draw upon two national longitudinal datasets from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS)-both are NIA supported datasets. A multilevel mixed effects model and the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model will be applied to address the research aims. This award will establish the candidate as an independent investigator in biodemography with the knowledge and skills to communicate across disciplines about the marital links to health.

Public Health Relevance

While various social, biological, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms work together to forge links between marriage and health, researchers tend to remain entrenched in their own disciplinary perspectives when studying these relationships. The overall goal of this research is to develop an interdisciplinary model for studying the interaction between biological and social processes through which marital relationships affect cardiovascular health over the life course.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute on Aging Initial Review Group (NIA)
Program Officer
Gerald, Melissa S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Michigan State University
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
East Lansing
United States
Zip Code
Umberson, Debra; Williams, Kristi; Thomas, Patricia A et al. (2014) Race, gender, and chains of disadvantage: childhood adversity, social relationships, and health. J Health Soc Behav 55:20-38
Reczek, Corinne; Liu, Hui; Spiker, Russell (2014) A Population-Based Study of Alcohol Use in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Unions. J Marriage Fam 76:557-572