The Science of Aging: Winter 2020 Newsletter is now available!

Winter 2020 Features:

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Scroll for links to full stories. 

The Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium 10-Year Symposium

On November 12 and 13, the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium’s (ADGC) 10-Year Symposium took place at the Inn at Penn in Philadelphia, PA. The event was jointly hosted by ADGC, Penn Neurodegeneration Genomics Center (PNGC) and the National Institute on Aging Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS).

Inferring Cognition vs. Testing Cognition

Last November, Boston University’s Rhoda Au, PhD, professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, joined us as an IOA Visiting Scholar to present her lecture, “The Path to Zero is One: Accelerating Innovation and Discovery through a Precision Brain Health Approach.”

Tau Co-factor Complexes as Building Blocks of Tau Fibrils

The IOA recently honored Songi Han, PhD Professor of Chem- istry and Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Uni- versity of California, Santa Barbara, as the 2019 recipient of the Mary and Joseph A. Pignolo, Sr. Award in Aging Research for her 2019 publication, “Narrow equilibrium window for com- plex coacervation of tau and RNA under cellular conditions,” published in Computational and Systems Biology, Neuroscience.

Announcing the New Penn U19 Center: A Center on Alpha-Synuclein Strains in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) Website!

The Penn U19 Center’s brand new website is officially live!

Led by IOA Director, John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, the goals of this Penn U19 Center On Alpha-synuclein Strains In Alzheimer Disease & Related Dementias” (ADRD)at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine are to elucidate mechanisms of progressive neurodegeneration and dementia in AD +alpha-Synuclein, Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease with dementia, dementia with lewy bodies, and multiple system atrophy.

Why where you live matters: The link between location and life expectancy

There are many factors that play a role in an individual’s life ex- pectancy – but is where they live one of them? In a recent report, NBC10 investigator, Mitch Blacher, shared data looking into six years’ worth of records from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to examine a potential link between age at death and geographical location.

According to the example presented by Blacher, the average life expectancy in Narberth, Pennsylvania, an area with a relatively low crime rate, tops 91 years of age. Just 5 miles away, individuals in Strawberry Mansion, a neighborhood in Philadelphia with a higher crime rate, are only reaching about 63 years on average.

To help explain this drastic difference in lifespan, Irma T. Elo, PhD, IOA Fellow and Chair of the Sociology Department at the University of Pennsylvania, was also featured in the report. Dr. Elo, whose research focuses on socioeconomic, demographic, and racial/ethnic disparities in health, cognition, and mortality across the life course, explained that stressful life situations, including financial stability or lack thereof, influence health and mortality.

Social Mobility: Its impact on an income-based life expectancy gap

In similar research, Penn Medicine’s Atheendar Venkataramani, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and his colleagues found that the life expectancy gap between rich and poor individuals is increasing in the United States, according to an article on

In general, areas with higher social mobility – the ability to change social class – have a smaller life expectancy gap. The article refers to evidence that suggests that living in areas with low social mobility negatively affects an individual’s beliefs about their future well-being lead- ing to stress and less of a chance to engage in healthy behaviors.

“While we cannot prove cause and effect, this study — along with others from our group — suggests that hope for a better future may translate into better health,” said Venkataramani.

The Cost of Aging: Long term care, aging in place, & alternative options

Penn Medicine’s Lisa M. Walke, MD, chief of geriatric medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Norma Coe, PhD, Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Pol- icy, sat down with WHYY’s Mary Cummings-Jordan for a Radio Times segment on aging and the cost of long term care, as well as alternative options for senior care.

One of the biggest issues that older Americans face is the struggle to afford long term care, but the cost is not the only important consideration. It can sometimes be difficult to determine when it is the right time to start looking for additional care. “The time when you need to start to consider potentially moving beyond where you’re living is when you cannot get services within your house to keep you safe and do your daily activities of living,” ex- plained Dr. Walke.

Once you are over that hurdle, that is when cost comes into play. With an average cost of $48,000 a year, over half of middle-in- come earning American’s are unable to afford assisted living, ex- plained Dr. Coe. And it also is important to note, long term care is not covered by Medicare.

According to Dr. Coe, it would be great if there was some sort of program, within or outside of Medicare, to cover this cost for older Americans, but the challenge is finding a way to pay for that program.

With that said, there are alternatives to assisted living for long term care of older adults. In addition to health service provid- ers, there are also programs that offer “adult day care” outside of the home as well as home health aide programs that compensate family members who care for their loved ones. There is also a rise in the push for aging in place – finding ways to safely maintain your ability to live at home in your later years of life with the help of geriatric health care providers and more recently, several technological advances such as apps and devices to track behav- iors and patterns to better assess any changes in an individual’s capabilities.

Download the Full Winter 2020 Newsletter here!

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