The Center for Aging and Population Health (CAPH) strives to generate new solutions to the challenges of an aging society through the conduct of population-based research that promotes healthy aging, longevity, and prevention of disability. Building on the resources of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Epidemiology and its funding as a CDC Prevention Research Center, the CAPH orchestrates epidemiologic and public health research on aging, trains professionals in population research methodology, and conducts community outreach. These efforts are collaborative within the University and the community, and engage older adults as valued resources in society. Thus, the focus of the CAPH is to optimize health in older adults by emphasizing health promotion and disease prevention.
The Center is directed by Anne B. Newman, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology, and co-directors, Jane A. Cauley, DrPH, Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Epidemiology, and Steven M. Albert, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences.
The rapid increase in the number of older adults will result in an increase in health care costs and disability which could bankrupt our health care system. A major public health priority in the United States and the Western Pennsylvania region is to identify approaches to optimize active life expectancy and limit the disabling effects of age related chronic disease. With gains in life expectancy throughout the world, the problems of an aging population are an emerging global health issue as well. Research conducted by faculty of the Center for Aging and Population Health (CAPH) positions the University of Pittsburgh to lead the way in changing the face of aging worldwide.
Major scientific advances have been made in epidemiology studies and clinical trials regarding important medical, behavioral and genetic determinants of healthy aging, yet the potential to substantially reduce disease and disability in old age is far from being fully realized in health care and public health practice. The CAPH strives to apply these important research findings by enhancing education of health professionals and the public about maximizing active life expectancy and reducing disease-specific morbidity and mortality.
- The CAPH is housed administratively in the Department of Epidemiology of the Graduate School of Public Health and is supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a Prevention Research Center. The Center continues to expand established success in research on the epidemiology of aging and longevity. This is accomplished by linking population-based research with new techniques in genetics, imaging and advanced laboratory diagnostic methods. The Center also expanded its population base to other communities and is developing an international collaborative study in India.
A major focus of research has been and will continue to be on maintenance of function and prevention of disability. Expertise in quantitative imaging and energy balance assessment is applied to define the impact of aging processes and health behaviors on mobility and body composition, including fat, muscle and bone in older adults. The areas of successful aging and the genetics of longevity and exceptional survival have been expanded. Other areas of active investigation include: determinants of brain aging and cardiovascular aging, clinical trials in the prevention of physical and cognitive decline and translation of these findings into community settings.
The CAPH conducts:
- Collaboration and Communication
The CAPH organizes several areas of excellence in the Department of Epidemiology by administratively incorporating the activities of the Prevention Research Center, funded by the CDC, the Health Studies Research Center, a very highly developed clinical research facility for the conduct of large cohort studies and clinical trials, and the Epidemiology of Aging Training Program.
The Health Studies Research Center serves as the field laboratory for trainees in the aging program and the Epidemiology of Aging courses.
The Epidemiology of Aging training grant (funded through 2021) provides resources for two pre-doctoral and two post-doctoral fellows who will be based in the Center. The CAPH provides resources for the analysis, presentation and publication of findings from current research and maintains several large data sets from multicenter studies. The program in aging includes many large studies with a high level of long term federal funding.
The CAPH has positioned the University of Pittsburgh as a candidate for continued research support from the CDC and NIH, and other federal, philanthropic and corporate sources for its long term research priorities. The CAPH-Prevention Research Center supports the translation and dissemination of research results to the community through quality prevention education materials and the design and evaluation of community prevention programs with a goal of keeping older adults healthy.
There are several Centers of Excellence and Program Project Grants that address health issues in older adults throughout the University of Pittsburgh. The faculty of the CAPH have active collaborations with many investigators in Departments outside of the Graduate School of Public Health. These include geriatric medicine, endocrinology, rheumatology, neurology, psychiatry, nephrology, cardiology, dentistry, physical therapy, and others. Dr. Newman and Dr. Albert serve as core leaders of the University of Pittsburgh’s Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, based in the Division of Geriatric Medicine. Because of the large number of successful collaborative aging programs, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have established the Aging Institute of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, which serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding clinical care resources, research projects and training opportunities. The Institute is advised by the University of Pittsburgh Council on Aging. The CAPH is a member program of the Aging Institute.