by Buck Institute
January 17, 2023 . BLOG
Calling all SuperAgers!
New research initiative is aimed at understanding the biology that drives exceptional longevity
Are you 95 or older and in good cognitive health? Do you know anyone who fits that bill? If so, the recently launched SuperAgers Family Study would love to include you (or them) in a research initiative that seeks to uncover the biology that allows these fortunate folks to live exceptionally long and healthy lives.
“These individuals are a promising, living source of scientific knowledge about healthy longevity,” says Sofiya Milman, MD, principal investigator of the study and director of human longevity studies at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute for Aging Research in New York City. “We encourage them to join this study.”
Current research shows that SuperAgers benefit from genes and biological mechanisms that help them maintain a long, healthy life, even though, in general, their lifestyle choices are not out of the ordinary. Noting that there are SuperAgers who smoke, do not exercise and are overweight, Milman says, “Ultimately we want to use results from the research to develop therapies that would mimic the positive effects of Super-Ager biology. The fact that these folks are able to live such long and healthy lives makes it feasible for the rest of us, which is a really exciting proposition.”
The initiative, which seeks to recruit 10,000 SuperAgers, is sponsored by the American Federation for Aging Research. Milman says right now 1 out of 6,000 American are 95 are older. “Having such a large cohort will make the results even more robust than the data we’ve been able to collect from the several thousand older adults who have already been involved in the research.”
Who is eligible/what’s required:
Individuals age 95 and older may register, along with their children, and their children’s spouses, who will be an ideal “comparison group,” given that they share the same environment and lifestyle with the children of the SuperAgers. “Data from children of SuperAgers shows they tend to have less heart disease, so that biology is something we are very interested in exploring in a deeper way,” Milman said.
Participants will complete an initial survey on general health information; qualified study participants will receive a user-friendly, non-invasive saliva collection kit in the mail which will be returned to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for processing and storage. Privacy of the samples and information will be maintained by using a unique bar code rather than participants’ names, and the biobank holding the DNA records will be protected and maintained in compliance with federal medical privacy law.
Participants may choose to find out information about their ancestry or family origins. They will also have the option of sharing their electronic health records with the researchers. While wholly voluntary, the records will give researchers valuable additional details about health history to allow more in-depth study.
Milman says one of the goals of the program is to create a community of SuperAgers and their family members. Study participants will be able to connect with each other, sharing stories and information. They will also receive information about how to live a long and healthy life as well as opportunities to be involved in other research projects.
Approaching 95? No problem!
Volunteers for the SuperAgers Family Study will be recruited over the next three years. So if you or a family member is approaching 95, make a note on your calendar and sign up as soon as you are eligible.