In Brief

Getting Wiser About Being Older

Researchers across the university who focus on healthy and active aging present at annual event November 2
two older people exercising in a park
Healthy and active aging research at Tufts covers a range from biomedical engineering to nutrition and physical activity. Photo: Ingimage
October 23, 2017

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The fastest growing age demographic in the world is people 60 and older, with the number of senior citizens expected to more than double by 2050, to 2.1 billion. According to the United Nations, “population aging is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.”

Researchers at Tufts are working to help make that transformation a vibrant one. Since 2015, the Healthy and Active Aging at Tufts initiative (HA2T) has identified more than 200 researchers from across the university who are involved in projects that focus on seniors.

The scientists span an enormous range of fields: biology, biomedical engineering, dentistry, neuroscience, nutrition and physical activity, occupational therapy, and veterinary science. Their work touches on everything from dental considerations for the aging mouth to home safety for dementia patients.

Over the last few years, HA2T has brought this wide-ranging group together through events such as a colloquia series, an annual Research Day and pilot grants.

“The HA2T initiative has been really helpful by allowing us to get a perspective of the breadth and depth of aging research activities across Tufts,” said Roger Fielding, chair of the HA2T steering committee and director of the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Lab at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts (HNRCA). “Now that we have a clear picture of the enormous impact that aging research has across all three Tufts campuses, we are working on better way to collaborate and develop some common initiatives.” Those include a graduate course on the biology of aging and a pre-doctoral training grant on age-associated inflammation.

The third annual HA2T Research Day, titled Community-based Health for Successful Aging, will feature a keynote speech by Arthur Kramer, senior vice provost for research at Northeastern University, whose recent research focuses on enhancement of cognitive and neural plasticity.

Some of the many other speakers include Tufts’ Li Zeng, associate professor of integrative physiology and pathobiology at Tufts, on resisting osteoarthritis; occupational therapy professor Linda Tickle-Degnen on aging with Parkinson’s disease; and James Baleja, associate professor of developmental, molecular and chemical biology, on early warning for age-related macular degeneration.

The Healthy Active Aging at Tufts Annual Research Day will be November 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the HNRCA Building, 711 Washington St., Boston. Register at  http://healthyaging.tufts.edu/events/retreat-registration/.