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The Australian Ageing Research Agenda Prof G A (Tony) Broe Prince of Wales Ageing Research Centre Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute President.

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Presentation on theme: "The Australian Ageing Research Agenda Prof G A (Tony) Broe Prince of Wales Ageing Research Centre Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute President."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Australian Ageing Research Agenda Prof G A (Tony) Broe Prince of Wales Ageing Research Centre Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute President Elect Australian Association of Gerontology

2 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Oeppen and Vaupal, Broken Limits to Life Expectancy. Science (2002) Serious Ageing

3 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Serious ageing should be be incorporated into the Ageing Research Agenda Vaupel (Science 2002) is likely to be correct – an average life expectancy of 100 yrs by 2060 Malthus was wrong – wealthy populations age & get richer, rather than multiply & get poorer Demographers age limits have been very wrong: Dublin (65y), Omran (70), Fries & Olshansky (85) Politicians blame the baby boomers. But they will be little more than a blip on our future ageing Australia will have 1.3 M. people 85+ by 2051 (a 400% increase as the population grows by 30%)

4 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute The Ageing Research Agenda Questions 1. What is the difference, or relative value, in pursuing ageing research vs more general research acknowledging age differentials? 2. How can ageing research contribute to the general Australian Research Agenda?

5 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute The Ageing Research Agenda Questions 1. What is the difference, or relative value, in pursuing ageing research vs more general research acknowledging age differentials? What characterises human ageing as a topic worthy of its own research agenda? What characterises general scientific research?

6 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute What characterises Human Ageing? Very serious - the ageing of the aged – 80+ Very rapid - so it has a recognition time-lag Very recent - so it has lack of acceptance Poorly understood - distal & proximal causes Extremely complex - accumulated genetic/ environment interactions across the life-span Multifactorial - we should embrace diversity

7 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Population Ageing - England Ageing is very rapid, very recent & v. complex Era % over % over 60 Laslett P. Ageing Soc 1984; 4:

8 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Mortality declines with advancing age over 80 Ageing of the aged from 1970 on – (Vaupel, Science 1998)

9 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute What characterises Human Ageing? Serious ageing - the ageing of the aged 80+ Very rapid - so it has a recognition time-lag Very recent - so it has lack of acceptance Poorly understood - distal & proximal causes Extremely complex - an accumulation of life- long genetic/environment interactions Multifactorial - we must embrace complexity

10 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Human Ageing & Medicine Lack of acceptance of a new discipline The Australian Association of Gerontology was formed in 1964 & now has about 1000 members - however Geriatric Medicine & Old Age Psychiatry training were accepted by our colleges only after 1976 We look after old people - Syndrome of the 1970s- 80s when we set up our multidisciplinary clinical units We do ageing research - Syndrome of the s when we set up our multidisciplinary research units Keep your old people out of our acute hospitals Syndrome of

11 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute The Ageing Research Agenda 1. What is the difference, or relative value, in pursuing ageing research vs more general research acknowledging age differentials? What characterises human ageing as a topic worthy of its own research agenda? What characterises general scientific research?

12 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute The Ageing Research Agenda Ageing Research Very recent Very new Tackles serious ageing New questions abound Complexity rules Multi-factorial General Research Comparatively old Pretty establishment Defines midlife as aging An aura of dogma Ockhams razor rules Reductionist Can these 2 agendas be merged?

13 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Q. What is the difference, or relative value, in pursuing ageing research vs more general research acknowledging age differentials? A. Both are legitimate and both are essential. 1. Nutrition, exercise, cancer, cardio-vascular & other system-based (vs general) researchers can & do piggy-back age-related research onto older cohorts with important advances in ageing 2. Gerontologists should drive complex, multi- factorial, across discipline, across life-span research on serious ageing that links social environmental & biological risk factors. Ageing research needs to cross current restrictive boundaries set up by funding bodies such as ARC, NHMRC, NHF etc

14 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Q.2. How can ageing research contribute to the general Australian Research Agenda? The principles intrinsic to Ageing Research (complexity; diversity; multifactorial causation; a life-span approach and multidisciplinary approach) apply increasingly to many other research fields The Information Revolution has transformed social and epidemiological research. Combined with advances in genetics, imaging, I.T. and other technologies we have the tools to bring ageing research principles to any research area

15 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Q 3.Can investigator driven, hypothesis testing, ageing research assist aged policy/services? Appropriate population-based studies are a scientific equivalent of the more PC consumer consultation (RCS = randomized controlled surveys) Kilsyth, Dubbo, SOPS, Canberra, and other studies have made many direct & indirect contributions to ageing and health services in Australia

16 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Sydney Older Persons Study: Summary of topics - Publications from 1995

17 Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute Conclusions Population Ageing is a good product of 200 yrs of wealth, health and salubrity - creating a majority of healthy older people, who dont throw bombs Average life-span will increase relentlessly; but our very old arent dying - their brains simply fade away We need to delay and reduce late-life decline and disability; and to support failing old & their carers Ageing Research is the key. Longitudinal, cross discipline, socio-epidemiological studies w. biological correlates - is a good methodology to answer the Qs.


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