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Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health

Population Studies
Future Directions

Ongoing Studies

Women’s Health and Aging Study I (WHAS I)
Initiated in 1991, WHAS I was a prospective, observational study of 1,002 women aged 65 years and older representing the one-third most disabled older women living in the community. The study primarily investigated the causes and course of physical disability. In addition, the study assessed the role of health care utilization, community, and informal services in modifying the course and severity of disability, and developed methodologies to identify subsets of disabled women at highest risk of progression of disability. Thereby, it determined opportunities for secondary and tertiary prevention of disability.

Women’s Health and Aging Study II (WHAS II)

Preventing or delaying the onset of limitations in physical function are top priorities in the new millennium as the number of older adults with physical disability is expected to rise sharply over the next 20 years.  WHAS II is a prospective, observational study with these goals. Initially comprising a representative sample of 436 high-functioning women age 70 to 79 in Baltimore, Maryland, the study is yielding important insights into how and why declines in function initially develop and progress to physical disability, how to identify individuals at the earliest, or “preclinical” stages of disablement, and how compromises in both mobility and in cognition develop and contribute to disability. This cohort was originally studied in 1994 and is undergoing its seventh evaluation.

Women’s Health and Aging Study III (WHAS III)

This study evaluates the role of inflammation, hormones, micronutrient deficiencies and other physiologic systems, singly and in combination, in the development of disability and frailty.  In part, its aims are being addressed through combined analysis of already-collected data in the WHAS I and II that span the full spectrum of function in older women.  Moreover, dysregulation in the systems at issue is increasingly hypothesized to result in adverse outcomes of aging through loss of reserve with which to cope with physiological stressors. To evaluate this hypothesis, WHAS III is currently conducting a series of innovative studies in conjunction with the seventh WHAS II evaluation, in which older adults experience stressors, such as exercise or an oral glucose tolerance test, and the amplitude of physiological response and rate of return to baseline levels over time are evaluated. The study aims to elucidate the basic physiological underpinnings of disability and frailty.

Baltimore Experience Corps Study

The Baltimore Experience Corps Study, a volunteer service program for older persons designed by COAH investigators and colleagues, is dedicated to mobilizing the experience, wisdom and energies of older adults from the community to address the needs of inner-city elementary schools.  By creating meaningful roles for older adults in schools, we create a powerful intergenerational matrix of influence that can improve the educational outcomes of children. The program is designed to simultaneously improve the health and functional status of participating seniors, with the goals of preventing disability, cognitive decline and falls. A randomized controlled trial of outcomes for older adults and for children is currently underway.

Older Americans Independence Center

The Johns Hopkins Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center fosters the next generation of research to determine the causes and treatments for frailty in older adults. It offers the core infrastructure necessary to develop new methodologies in genetics and biostatistics that are essential to the study of the complex syndrome of frailty, and provides training and mentoring for future research leaders in the field, as well as support for pilot studies and protected time for junior faculty to develop research on frailty.

The Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) 

This study is a nationwide, multi-center, randomized and controlled clinical trial to evaluate whether medicine made from the plant Ginkgo biloba can prevent or delay dementia. The study has enrolled over 3,000 adults ages 75 and older with no dementia and in good health at baseline, and is in the seventh year of a ten-year evaluation. COAH is one of  four participating centers, nationwide.

Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS)

This population-based longitudinal cohort study, ongoing since 1989, is designed to determine the importance of conventional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in older adults, and to identify new risk factors in this age group, as well as define outcomes of CVD.  A total of 5,888 men and women from four communities:  Forsyth County, North Carolina; Sacramento County, California; Washington County, Maryland; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were enrolled in the study in 1989-90 and are being followed to date.

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EBA Research-in-Progress Meeting

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