Kuakini Hawaii Healthspan Study
Kuakini Medical Center was awarded over $1 million in 2011 for a new study on healthy aging called the Kuakini Hawaii Healthspan Study. This study organized a multidisciplinary team of genetic, epidemiological, and geriatric scientists to study existing human data on aging and biological specimens from the five decades-long Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program. The team is focusing on functional characteristics of healthy aging over the lifespan (i.e. "healthspan") and will attempt to identify genetic factors that help people survive to older ages in good health.
While terms such as "successful," "healthy," or "effective" aging describe a paradigm of aging with minimal chronic disease, the functional (physical and cognitive) characteristics of aging are poorly understood and little is known about genetic or environmental predictors. Our plan is to identify additional genes associated with longevity from energy sensing pathways and to conduct a prospective study of genetic predictors of survival and healthy survival.
We will focus on the discovery of genetic factors that might slow the loss of physical and cognitive function that occurs with aging. Discovery of biologic pathways that affect vulnerability to disease and disability could have a dramatic impact on our ability to achieve healthy old age by identifying biological targets for new therapies. Our study directly supports NIA's mission to improve the health and well-being of older Americans.