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U-M Health and Retirement Study adds genetic data to NIH database
Date:3/28/2012

g with studies of complex disease traits, physiological measures and functions, biomarkers and physical performance. The longitudinal design of the HRS greatly enhances the power to detect genetic effects and to study determinants of age-dependent changes in health and function.

"When the Health and Retirement Study began collecting DNA in 2006, it was with a firm belief that measuring genetic variation at the population level would someday help to galvanize the integration of social and biological sciences," said David Weir, director of the HRS and principal investigator of the genotyping projects funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. "Now technological advances in genotyping, the vision of the National Institute on Aging in supporting the first-of-its kind nationally representative population study of genetics, and the collaboration of leading geneticists at U-M have made this integration a reality."

"Aging is one of life's biggest mysterieswhat speeds it up or slows it down? The HRS finally brings together two separate research worlds into a single large, deep longitudinal study," said U-M geneticist Sharon Kardia. "Now we can finally study how a person's genes interact with their social situation, life choices and beliefs about the world."

Launched in 1992, the HRS today follows more than 35,000 people over age 50. It collects data every two years, from pre-retirement to advanced age, during extensive interviews with participants, who are asked detailed questions about their health, economic status, social factors, cognitive ability and life circumstances. The interviews also include a set of physical performance tests, body measurements, blood and saliva samples, and a psychosocial questionnaire.

"Adding genetic data to this longitudinal study has the potential to revolutionize behavioral and social research," said Richard Suzman, director of the National Institute on Aging Division of Behavioral and Social
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Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
734-647-4416
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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