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Epidemiology of Aging

The aging of populations is an incontrovertible trend in both the developing and the developed worlds.

The population of the world is aging. For the first time in history, worldwide there will soon be more adults aged 65 and older than children aged five and younger. As a result, there is an urgent need for public health professionals who specialize in aging to address the needs of this growing segment of the population.

In the Epidemiology of Aging track, faculty and students examine the public health impact of aging societies, and the multifactorial changes associated with aging that make health issues for older persons important and unique.

The Epidemiology of Aging track is intended for master's, doctoral and postdoctoral students who wish to learn about the unique health challenges facing older adults. It aims to provide advanced training to epidemiologists interested in the major public health and clinical issues relevant to older adults, and the conceptual and methodological framework that form a basis for studies of older populations. In the Epidemiology of Aging track, faculty and students examine the public health importance of aging societies through coursework, journal clubs and research projects. Students within the program benefit from coursework in epidemiology, biostatistics, and gerontology offered in departments throughout the school. Students learn about the challenges posed by changes in physical and cognitive functioning, as well as the impact of multi-comorbid diseases in older adults.

This track also focuses on the epidemiology of major geriatric syndromes, including frailty, disability, falls and cognitive decline in older populations. Significant attention is dedicated to the understanding of opportunities for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in the context of the marked health status heterogeneity among older adults. This program focuses on the scientific basis for improved prevention and treatment of adverse functional outcomes in older adults. The strengths of the program include the existing depth of interest and expertise in gerontology, methodology and geriatric medicine at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Students are mentored by faculty housed in the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, who are active in both population-based and clinical research. The program also benefits from close ties with the Johns Hopkins Older Americans Independence Center, and the Johns Hopkins Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. The goals of the program can be effectively divided by year. First-year students master the material in the required courses and pass the comprehensive examination. Seminars and interaction with the academic advisor build the foundation for subsequent research. In addition to classes, students attend seminars in the Department of Epidemiology and the Center on Aging and Health, including bi-monthly grand rounds, research-in-progress seminars, and journal clubs.

Second-year students work on selecting a research project with a faculty research mentor. The research is facilitated by faculty playing a leading role in dozens of important aging studies, including Aging, Cognition and Hearing Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) trial, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and the Study To Understand Falls Reduction and Vitamin D in You (STURDY). Students have the opportunity to participate in a practicum in Geriatric Medicine offered by the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, as well as a research practicum. Doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in the Aging track are eligible for departmental and School funding opportunities. In addition, a limited number of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows training in population-based cancer research are supported by the Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Aging (EBA) T32 Training Grant.

Additional information about the Epidemiology of Aging Program can be found at the sites below: