Molecular Epidemiology: Exciting approaches to ageing research.
Why do some people survive into their nineties and can still ride their bikes, while others age faster in poor health? Research on ageing at molecular epidemiology links clinical studies to biobanking and biology. We aim to understand the mechanisms determining the rate of ageing, the increasing susceptibility to disease that goes along with it and, alternatively, the factors that promote healthy ageing. We focus in this context on metabolic health and disease and osteoarthritis.
We focus on patient and population-based cohorts such as families displaying osteoarthritis in middle age (the GARP study), long-living families (Leiden Longevity Study) population based elderly (Leiden 85+ Study) and populations exposed to adverse conditions early in life (The Dutch Hungerwinter cohort). In collaboration with a diversity of dutch biobanks we integrate studies across the lifespan to follow the leads resulting from our research from newborns to middle aged patients and long-lived individuals. We integrate serum parameters, genetic (epi)genomic, imaging and metabolomic data and lifestyle questionnaires using state-of–the–art–omics technologies. We study primary skin fibroblasts, peripheral blood mononuclear cells and mesenchymal stem cells from donors of which extensive biological information is stored in biobank databases. Through national and international collaborations (BBMRI) we are deeply involved in organizing infrastructure, statistical and bioinformatics pipelines necessary for analysis of data generated by novel–omics technologies.
Molecular Epidemiology has a leading role in the Netherlands Consortium for Healthy Ageing in which fruitfull public-private collaborations have been ongoing for many years, to find biological factors that counteract disease susceptibility and to apply practical interventions to promote healthy ageing. Our research is closely connected to worldwide and European consortia in ageing research, in which our scientists participate or play a leading role.
The expertise of Molecular Epidemiology, headed by Prof.dr. P. Eline Slagboom is concentrated in different research areas: osteoarthritis, metabolic or cardiovascular disease, longevity and the fields of epigenetics and bioinformatics.