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Multidisciplinary Research

Focusing on the whole person and his or her environment is perhaps the greatest strength of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.

A major multidisciplinary project in the center is the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC). The overall theme of the Center is “to understand and modify multiple pathways of functional decline.” The OAIC is structured to (1) enhance and support research and (2) research career development in aging research through its Core resources. The central theme of our OAIC is to understand and modify the multiple pathways of functional decline. The OAIC is based in the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, an all-university program with strong multidisciplinary affiliated programs such as the Durham VA Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), the Hartford Center of Excellence, the Duke Institute for Genomic Sciences and Policy, the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, the Duke Center for Living, and the Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center. This rich milieu includes 130 faculty as Senior Fellows of the Aging Center and over 25 million dollars of research germane to the goals of the OAIC.

The Duke Longitudinal Studies, which have been awarded the Sandoz International Prize, initiated this tradition in the mid-1950s, and similar efforts continue today. The largest such study is the Piedmont Health Survey of the Elderly. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the study includes eight interviews, spanning a decade, and clinical studies of more than 4,000 older adults from five North Carolina counties. Major research issues include the prevalence and incidence of chronic disease and mental health problems, social and environmental risk factors of disease onset, patterns of health care and service use, and overall quality of life. Data from this study continues to be a rich source for exploring research themes of interest.

The Center has a substantial interest in global aging working in collaboration with the Duke Global Health Institute. This collaboration includes programs in Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, West Indies and ongoing exploration of other possibilities.