We propose a new training program, Psychosocial Determinants and Biological Pathways to Healthy Aging (PATHWAYS), that builds on our established track record in pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training. Consistent with goals of NIH to encourage interdisciplinary training and research, the PATHWAYS program focuses on the junction of behavioral, social and biological research. In addition, our training program is positioned to meet a critical set of training needs that have been identified as central to NIA's Division of Behavioral and Social Research 2013 BSR Review Committee Report. Specifically, this report identified the high priority area that illuminates the pathways by which social, psychological, economic and behavioral factors affect health in middle-aged and older adults. The PATHWAYS training program will fill a unique niche in the NIA portfolio by providing cutting-edge training to graduate students and post-doctoral scholars who are focused on understanding the linkages among behavioral, psychosocial and biological mechanisms that codetermine healthy and unhealthy aging. We request positions for 2 new pre-doctoral trainees and 2 new post-doctoral trainees per year. Each trainee will be enrolled in the program for approximately 2 years. In addition, academic units affiliated with the training program and the office for Penn State Vice President for Research have committed a combined total of $831,950 in real dollar matching support to the PATHWAYS T32 training activities. This support will cover the tuition and stipend costs for up to an additional 6 pre-doctoral trainee slots over the course of the training program. The combined sources of funding will result in training a total of up to 1 pre-doctoral and 8 postdoctoral trainees throughout the proposed 5 year funding period. Trainees will be provided with the foundational training needed to integrate a broad range of psychosocial and biological concepts, and to use advanced data acquisition and analysis methods in their own research. Additionally, all trainees will receive instruction in research ethics and in approaches to research with underserved minorities. Faculty for this training program have active and funded research programs on various aspects of health in adulthood and later life and a strong record of collaboration and mentorship. Our expected outcome is to train a cadre of scholars who will go on to careers in research that explore the interface of stres and health in adulthood and old age, and who bring to their research knowledge of basic and emerging methodological approaches for addressing the types of multidimensional and longitudinal data needed to tackle key issues in this field.
Public Health Statement Social and behavioral experiences have large and pervasive effects on health outcomes during adulthood. Understanding the biological pathways by which psychosocial determinants operate promises substantial improvements in public health as well as savings in healthcare costs. This training grant will prepare a new generation of researchers who will be able to examine these biopsychosocial pathways to health. Increased focus on this issue is warranted by the growth of the older population and the need for new models and approaches to improve health and prevent disabilities.
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