This proposal seeks funding for a renewal of our 20-year-old training program in the epidemiology of aging. The goal of this program is to continue to successfully prepare future independent researchers and academic leaders in this field. The proposed program will admit two predoctoral and two postdoctoral trainees who will obtain advanced degrees in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), obtain practical training in the application of epidemiology to questions in aging, and engage in mentored research under the direction of experienced epidemiologists, statisticians, and experts in chronic diseases affecting older individuals. These mentors are based at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Divisions of Aging, Preventive Medicine, Pharmacoepidemiology, and the Channing Laboratory. Additional faculty members are based at HSPH, VA Boston Healthcare System, and the Interdisciplinary Center on Aging at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/ Hebrew SeniorLife. The training program consists of 1) coursework leading to a degree at HSPH with a special emphasis on courses pertaining to the epidemiology of aging, 2) practical seminars and workshops at BWH in the application of this coursework, 3) mentored research, and 4) career development counseling. The mentored research is the centerpiece of the training program. A mentoring team with appropriate expertise will be assembled for each trainee. The trainees will work with their mentors to develop a portfolio of projects using the extensive data resources under the direction of faculty members. Research activities will leverage the many large-scale epidemiologic studies that include observational studies and randomized clinical trials, as well as their associated plasma and DNA banks, providing significant opportunities for trainees to meld the practical research techniques of large-scale epidemiology with emerging molecular and genetic approaches to evaluate risk factors for, and treatment of, age-related outcomes. As demonstrated by the excellent productivity and research independence of our trainees to date, as well as the continued commitment of our dedicated faculty members, we are confident in our ability to continue to train high-quality investigators in the epidemiology of aging.
Understanding the diseases, conditions, and risk factors that either are unique to the elderly, more prevalent in the elderly, or have a different effect, requires well-designed and well-conducted epidemiologic studies, with specialized analyses and careful interpretation of the findings. This requires the training of physician scientists and doctoral candidates who have a firm grounding in research methods, biostatistics, and Pharmacoepidemiology as well as specialized knowledge in the epidemiology of aging.
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