The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, recently announced that it has committed more than $36.7 million over the next five years to support and expand its Centers on the Demography and Economics of Aging. The Centers form a network of universities and organizations leading innovative studies on the characteristics of the aging population. The awards, which include some support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, renewed support for 11 Centers and established three new ones. "The NIA Demography Centers have been instrumental in constructing and maintaining critical databases, attracting and developing scholars, establishing international and interdisciplinary networks and informing public policy," said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, MD. "The Centers provide an important infrastructure for promoting research in the areas of health, demographics, economics and population aging." Each NIA Demography Center has its own set of disciplinary specializations, although research conducted at the different Centers is often interrelated. All Centers investigate aspects of health and health care, the societal impact of population aging and the economic and social circumstances of older people. Many Centers also conduct research on global aging and cross-national comparisons, and several are pioneering work on the biodemography of aging, investigating the relationships among biology and genetics, health and mortality and life expectancy. "The NIA Demography Centers have played a key role in helping create the new fields of demography and economics of aging, and are crucial to understanding population aging in America and around the world," said Richard Suzman, PhD, director of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research, which funds the Centers. "Population dynamics, economics, health and societal programs such as Medicare and Social Security all affect the well-being of older people. By combining and relating these factors to each other, the Centers have provided significant new insights that are highly relevant to policy makers." The three new Centers with its research emphasis are the Center on the Demography of Aging, Duke University/Biodemography; Hopkins Center for Population Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins University/Disability and intergenerational support; Center for Aging and Policy Studies, Syracuse University/Behavioral responses to aging, public policy and gerontology education. The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
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