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TILDA Receives Major Funding for Innovative Global Healthy Ageing Project

The project which received funding from the Horizon 2020 Programme will examine the social disparities in health ageing and the effect of the economic recession on health and biology of ageing, using data from TILDA and the Growing up in Ireland longitudinal studies.

A European team including Trinity College Dublin researchers Professor Richard Layte from the Department of Sociology and Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA have just been awarded 6 million euros in funding under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for a new project called LIFEPATH.

In developed countries people of different socioeconomic groups experience dramatic differences in healthy ageing, quality of life and life expectancy. The LIFEPATH project will focus on the idea of healthy ageing for all and will work to provide relevant and innovative evidence to underpin future policies and strategies for the promotion of healthy ageing, targeted disease prevention and clinical interventions that address the issue of social disparities in ageing and the social determinants of health.

The project team hope to show that healthy ageing is an achievable goal for society, as it is already experienced by individuals of high socio-economic status. They also aim to improve the understanding of the mechanisms through which healthy ageing pathways diverge by socio-economic status, examine the consequences of the current economic recession on health and the biology of ageing and the consequences of this for social inequalities in health.

LIFEPATH will use an innovative study design that will bring together three areas of research that have been developed separately for a long time: population-based health sciences; omics-biomarker technologies; and social sciences. The project will make use of existing population studies across Europe including the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) and TILDA studies. They will integrate longitudinal social science research with biology such as molecular epidemiology, which looks at how genetic and environmental risk factors, identified at the molecular level, may contribute to the cause, distribution and prevention of disease across populations.

Speaking about LIFEPATH Professor of Sociology in Trinity, Richard Layte said: “This project brings together biological and social science researchers to shed light on the complex pathways through which low income and social deprivation influence the risk of chronic illness and disease in later life. Our results will be crucial for the development of more effective policy interventions both in Ireland and the European Union.”

Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA added: “Because of the comprehensive way the TILDA and GUI data is collected, we now have an opportunity through this collaboration to better understand how adverse childhood events can influence physical and mental health via inflammatory and other biological pathways. New insights into these processes will help to inform policy, technology innovation coupled with creative interventions and targets set in Europe to increase healthy life years by two years by 2020.”

The research work at Trinity will be conducted in TILDA at the Department of Medical Gerontology in the School of Medicine in conjunction with the Department of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

The project includes partners from leading research universities throughout Europe and the US including Imperial College London, University College London, INSERM Toulouse/Paris, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Columbia University, New York.