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We do not all age at the same pace, even if we are the same age. This is the difference between chronological ageing and biological ageing. Chronological age reflects time passed since birth, while biological age reflects decline or dysregulation at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, and whole body or functional level of an individual.

The changes associated with biological ageing are risk factors for complex diseases of ageing and frailty. Whereas longevity is associated with resilience and protective biological mechanisms. Understanding the interplay between biological changes associated with ageing and protective mechanisms associated with longevity may help guide development of interventions to increase healthspan and promote successful ageing.

The pace of biological ageing is controlled partly by internal genetic, epigenetic, and biochemical processes that are in turn modulated by external influences from social, economic, societal and environmental factors.

Biomarkers are naturally occurring molecules, genes, or physiological characteristics by which a particular biological or disease process can be identified. In TILDA we measure a range of biomarkers at the molecular, cellular and physiological (tissue and organ) level that are linked to age-related diseases and phenotypes. Our research aims to investigate biomarkers that best capture those who are experiencing accelerated biological ageing and who are therefore at risk for declining health and age-related disease. This information is utilised to inform disease prevention and management strategies, and to improve health and social care policy and service planning.

In TILDA we measure biomarkers of genetics, telomeres, epigenetics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, micronutrients, gut microbiome and protein markers of cardiovascular, metabolic, renal, immunological and brain health.

TILDA Researchers

Dr Aisling O'Halloran

Dr. O’Halloran is the Biobank Manager and Senior Research Fellow with The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) within the academic unit of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin and Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin.

She has been the research lead on both the Frailty and Biomarker Working Groups within TILDA and also manages the TILDA Biobank, the largest of its kind in the Rep. of Ireland.

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TILDA Researchers

Dr Cathal McCrory

Dr Cathal McCrory is Associate Professor (Psychology) of Life Course Development and Ageing in the Department of Medical Gerontology. He leads the Behavioural and Social Sciences group within TILDA.

His research utilises population-level data to explore the extent to which differences in exposure to stressors can account for disease and mortality differentials between different social groups, leading to the identification of modifiable risk and resilience factors.

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TILDA Researchers

Dr Nollaig Bourke

Nollaig Bourke is the Ussher Assistant Professor in Inflammageing in Trinity College Dublin. Dr Bourke’s research focuses on understanding specific cellular mechanisms being dysregulated during ageing that result in inflammation, decreased immune responses and pathology in age related diseases.

TILDA offers a unique opportunity to investigate this at a population level and Dr Bourke is the inflammation lead within the TILDA study. Her work aims to determine novel biomarkers of health and disease in ageing, as well as elucidating cellular mechanisms that drive the enhanced systemic inflammation that often occurs with ageing (“inflammageing”).

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