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NIH-Funded Study Seeks Long-lived Families To Help Discover Secrets of Long and Healthy Life


Long, healthy life tends to run in some families, and researchers on a project supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) want to learn more about the factors that contribute to it. The Long Life Family Study (LLFS), developed by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging (NIA), is now recruiting families to participate in this study.

This study will be conducted by researchers at three sites in the United States and one in Denmark. Potential U.S. participants will be recruited from areas close to the LLFS study centers at Columbia University in New York City, the University of Pittsburgh and Boston University. Potential Danish participants will be recruited by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark, using information from the Danish National Population Registry. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will act as the Data Management and Coordinating Center.

LLFS researchers are seeking a large number of families with several long-lived members for this study and are particularly interested in hearing from families with at least two living members aged 80 years or older and their living children who reside near the study site locations of Pittsburgh, Boston or New York. Trained clinical staff members will meet with study participants to ask questions about their family and health history and conduct some performance and physical assessments. Study participants will also be asked for a small blood sample to obtain genetic information to help determine the role that genes might play in long healthy survival, in addition to many other factors.

“Other studies have indicated that longevity tends to run in families. The planned LFFS is designed to determine the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to longevity and to the ability to escape diseases normally associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease,” said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., NIA director.

Winifred K. Rossi, deputy director of NIA’s Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Program and the NIA program official for the five-year, $18 million project said, “Families are often very proud of their long-lived relatives. This study will provide the opportunity for long-lived families to share information about their lives that contributes to their long and healthy survival. The knowledge gained from these families can help us understand what makes them unique and can lead to scientific insights to help other people improve the length of time they spend in good health.” The scientific results of the study will be made public once the information obtained is analyzed, said Rossi. The privacy of study participants and their information will be carefully protected, she emphasized.

The study’s lead investigators, prominent in longevity and genetic research, are:

* Thomas Perls, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New England Centenarian Study and Associate Professor of Medicine, Geriatrics Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University, Boston;

* Richard Mayeux, M.D., Gertrude H. Sergievsky Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Epidemiology at Columbia University and director of the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, New York;

* Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh;

* James W. Vaupel, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, and director of the Program on Population, Policy and Aging at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina;

* Kaare Christensen, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark and senior research scientist at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina and,

* Michael A. Province, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics and Biostatistics, and Director of the Division of Statistical Genomics in the Genome Sciences Center of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Interested parties should call the local LLFS recruitment offices at the following numbers:

* Boston University: 1-888-333-6327

* University of Pittsburgh: 1-800-872-3653

* Columbia University: 1-800-304-4317

Editor’s note — Reporters who wish to interview Long Life Family Study investigators at the local study sites should contact:

* Gina Digravio, 617-638-8491 or, for Boston University;

* Elizabeth Streich, 212-305-6535 or, for Columbia University; or

* Jim Swyers, 412-647-3555 or, for the University of Pittsburgh.

The NIA, part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. For more information on health and aging, visit the NIA website, or call the NIA Information Center at 1-800-222-2225.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


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