More and more people are living longer. But living to extreme old age is unusual and tends to run in some families. A new study, supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aims to learn more about the secrets to long healthy life, and investigators are seeking long-lived families to help study this important question.
In coming weeks, researchers in three regions - near Boston, New York and Pittsburgh - will be contacting older people to see if they and their families might be eligible and willing to participate in the Long Life Family Study. The study is looking for families with two or more healthy brothers and sisters who have lived to old age and can be interviewed in person.
"We're interested in finding out why some families age so well,"said Winifred K. Rossi, deputy director of NIA's Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology and the NIA program official for the study. "By sharing information about their lives and families with us, participants may help improve the health of future generations - including their own children and grandchildren - by giving us clues to the secrets of healthy longevity."
"We aim to enroll as many families with as many long-lived members as possible,"Rossi continued "The more families and the larger the size of each family enrolled, the better the chance we can find meaningful results. We are seeking study participants primarily from the regions near the three study centers, but we have the ability to interview participants' family members who live in other parts of the country so that their information can be included."
Trained clinical staff will meet with study participants in their communities to ask questions about their family and health history and conduct some physical assessments and health screening tests. Participants will also be asked for a small blood sample to obtain genetic information. Genetic and health information will be kept strictly confidential. Investigators plan to stay in touch with the families to determine if other family members and their children live longer than usual.
The current study recruitment builds on efforts during an earlier phase of the research, in which several hundred families took part. It is critical to include a large number of additional families so that the most thorough analyses can be done. "The families who have so generously given of their time so far have told us that they are proud of their long-lived families and are happy to be part of this effort,"Rossi noted. "We are most appreciative of their time and of their interest - and that of future participants."The study's lead researchers, prominent in longevity and genetic research, are: