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Epidemiology

Epidemiology of Aging

The aging of populations is an incontrovertible trend in both the developing and the developed worlds.

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Learn more about the students who pursue this area of epidemiology.

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In the United States, the population of those 65 and over will double in the coming decades. There is an urgent need for public health professionals who specialize in aging to address the needs of this growing segment of the population.

In the Epidemiology of Aging track, faculty and students discuss the public health import of aging societies, and the constellation of changes associated with aging that make health issues for older persons important and unique.

The Epidemiology of Aging track is intended for master's, doctoral and postdoctoral students who wish to conduct work in older populations. It aims to provide advanced training to epidemiologists interested in the major public health and clinical issues relevant to older adults, and the conceptual and methodological framework that form a basis for studies of older populations. In the Epidemiology of Aging track, faculty and students discuss the public health import of aging societies, and the constellation of changes associated with aging that make health issues for older persons important and unique. Students within the program benefit from coursework in biology, methodology, and gerontology content offered in the Epidemiology and other departments throughout the school. Students learn about the burden and challenges posed by the substantial occurrence of multi-comorbid diseases, as well as subclinical diseases in older adults. The importance of physical and cognitive function as major outcomes, as well as methods for assessment of functional outcomes is addressed.

This track also focuses on the epidemiology of major geriatric syndromes, including frailty, disability, falls, and cognitive decline in older populations. Significant attention is dedicated to the understanding of opportunities for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in the context of the marked health status heterogeneity among older adults. This program focuses on the scientific basis for improved prevention and treatment of adverse functional outcomes in older adults. The strengths of the program include the existing depth of interest and expertise in gerontology and geriatric medicine at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Students are mentored by faculty housed in the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, who are active in both population-based and clinical research. The program also benefits from close ties with the Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center, and the Johns Hopkins Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. The goals of the program can be effectively divided by year. First-year students master the material in the required courses and pass the comprehensive examination. Seminars and interaction with the academic advisor build the foundation for subsequent research. In addition to classes, students attend seminars in the Department of Epidemiology and the Center on Aging and Health, including Grand Rounds, Research-in-Progress Seminars, and Journal Clubs.

Second-year students work on selecting a research project with a faculty research mentor. The research is facilitated by faculty playing a leading role in dozens of important aging studies, including the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), and the Women’s Health and Aging Studies I and II. The PI of the Johns Hopkins Field Center for these studies is Dr. Paolo Chaves. Students have the opportunity to participate in a practicum in Geriatric Medicine offered by the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and a research practicum related to research conduction. Doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in the Aging track are eligible for departmental and School funding opportunities. In addition, a limited number of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows training in population-based cancer research are supported by the Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Aging (EBA) T32 Training Grant.

Students in the program benefit from coursework in biology, methodology, and gerontology content offered in the Epidemiology and other departments throughout the school. They learn about the burden and challenges posed by the substantial occurrence of multi-comorbid diseases, as well as subclinical diseases in older adults. The importance of physical and cognitive function as major outcomes, as well as methods for assessment of functional outcomes is addressed. This concentration also focuses on the epidemiology of major geriatric syndromes, including frailty, disability, falls, and cognitive decline in older populations. Significant attention is dedicated to the understanding of opportunities for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in the context of the marked health status heterogeneity among older adults. Students have the opportunity to engage in a series of well-established ongoing research projects led by Epidemiology of Aging faculty in the community and in the clinical setting.

The program includes a number of educational activities, including journal clubs, student-led research-in-progress seminars, faculty-led seminars, and a practicum in geriatrics offered by the Division of Geriatric Medicine. Additional information about the Epidemiology of Aging Program can be found at the sites below: