The aim of this K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award application is to obtain training and conduct research in spatial sciences and molecular genetics at the Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC). The proposed projects will facilitate the PI?s transition to an independent researcher in health and aging with emphases in environments and genetics. The PI is a developmental health psychologist and has received rigorous training in multidisciplinary approaches to the social sciences. The proposed training will add substantially to the PI?s skills in neighborhoods and health and genetic research. Environments with a greater degree of crime, disorder, and decay may be a situation of chronic stress, with exposure to such environments potentially resulting in poor health. The proposed research is highly significant and innovative in its aims to methodologically advance understanding of relations between neighborhoods and health, investigate affective and physiological pathways explaining this link, and examine age and genetic moderation of this link. Through age-related declines in physical functioning and reduced mobility, older adults may be particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors. Older age is one of the largest risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases, and the proposed research will examine cardiometabolic health in the context of multiple indices of environmental stressors. Additionally, genetic markers have been identified that are posited to partially explain individual differences in stress sensitivity and cardiometabolic diseases. Findings from the proposed research have the potential to inform policy and community-planning efforts. The proposed research will use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a population-based sample of people 50 years and older, and a NIH-funded Contextual Data Resource. HRS participants provide blood and saliva samples for an analysis of physiological well-being and genetic information and respond to questions about their neighborhoods and their health. The Contextual Data Resource that will be used in the proposed research contains information on psychosocial and physical environmental stressors. Generalized linear models will be used to examine individual-level data (participant neighborhood perceptions) and multi- level models will be used for neighborhood-level data (neighborhood SES, crime, disorder and decay). USC is an ideal location for conducting the proposed training, as there are ample intellectual, material, and structural resources available for researchers in aging, molecular genetics, neighborhoods and health, and psychophysiology. Funding for the R00 research projects will provide the necessary resources for the PI to develop data and expertise to launch an independent research career as well as an R01 proposal examining additional environmental stressors and cognitive and physical frailty among older adults.

Public Health Relevance

Neighborhood adversity is associated with poorer mental and physical health, and the proposed research will examine features of neighborhoods and residents that establish or maintain this relation. Results from the proposed work will further understanding the relationships between neighborhood features and health among older adults, mechanisms explaining this relationship, and age-related and genetically-conferred risk or resilience. Findings have the potential to inform community-level intervention efforts with the ultimate goal of assisting people in living healthier lives for a greater portion of the lifespan.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Career Transition Award (K99)
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Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee (NIA)
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King, Jonathan W
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University of Southern California
Los Angeles
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Robinette, Jennifer W; Charles, Susan T; Gruenewald, Tara L (2018) Neighborhood cohesion, neighborhood disorder, and cardiometabolic risk. Soc Sci Med 198:70-76
Robinette, Jennifer W; Charles, Susan T; Gruenewald, Tara L (2017) Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Health: A Longitudinal Analysis. J Community Health 42:865-871