The most profound demographic change confronting our world is a dramatic increase in individuals over 65 years of age, projected to reach over 80 million people in the US and 1.2 billion worldwide by 2050. The increasing number of older adults has major socioeconomic ramifications. First, the increase in longevity dramatically increases numbers of older adults with multiple chronic diseases and with reduced quality of life. Second, the challenge of managing health care of older adults consumes a disproportionally large segment of health care dollars. Therefore, biomedical innovations must target increasing resilience and healthspan in older adults. Robustly increased training in biomedical sciences pertinent to the biology of aging is critical to address the needs of the growing number of older adults. Here we propose a new, innovative multidisciplinary program designed to train pre-doctoral investigators (4 per year) to define mechanisms underlying the roles of Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging (IIDA). The IIDA training program is comprised of basic scientists, clinicians, and public health mentors at the University of Arizona (UA), a top 20 public Research I University, recognized for its training history in the field of basic biomedical research and for its commitment to mentoring, diversity (designated Hispanic-serving Institution) and cross-disciplinary training. In the last 3 years, as part of unprecedented growth in biomedical sciences, UA has identified research on aging as a pillar of all four strategic initiatives of the UA Health Sciences and as one of top 10 initiatives of the UA College of Medicine. To leverage this, we propose a graduate-level training program with 3 major themes: (i) inflammation and immunity in aging, (ii) persistent infection in aging, and (iii) inflammation and age- related pathology. The 21 NIH-funded faculty supporting this training program have diverse and strong expertise in infection, inflammation, immunology, and age-related pathologies. The training program is supported by a number of UA strengths in aging, basic sciences, clinical practice, and public health. The goal if the IIDA is to harness these strengths towards the premier training program in the underserved area of infection and inflammation as drivers of the aging process. Extensive institutional support, state- of-the-art core facilities, and clinical and public health mentorship will enhance the training experience, that will also have a strong underrepresented minority (URM) outreach and diversity-building component. Thereby, the IIDA training program will provide unique opportunities for training the next generation of diverse scientists to advance our understanding of the biological basis of aging processes and develop strategies to enhance resilience and healthspan.
This new, multidisciplinary training program is designed to train pre-doctoral students (4 per year) to investigate the underlying the roles of Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging. Increased training in biomedical sciences pertinent to the biology of aging is critical to address the needs of the growing number of older adults,that will make over a quarter of the US population and 1.2 billion people worldwide by 2050. Specific training in the roles of infection and inflammation as drivers of aging will help understand and treat sources of inflammation that propagate and aggravate many diseases of old age, including arthritis, cancers, cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer?s and Parkinsons.