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Director's Message Winter 2017

Dr. Firestein

We established the Center for Life Course Research at UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) in 2015, creating a home for ACTRI researchers studying health issues that span multiple life stages. Broadly, life course research investigates the long term effects of social, behavioral and biologic determinants of disease across the life span or across generations. The goal of the Center is to develop and support multi-disciplinary approaches that bring pediatricians, neonatologists, internists, family medicine physicians and geriatrics specialists together to study special populations and life course transitions.

Dr. Christina Chambers, a renowned pediatrics researcher, directs the Center, with Drs. Andrea LaCroix, Dilip Jeste and Linda McEvoy serving as associate directors. These four leaders represent research expertise from prenatal through childhood, adulthood through midlife and older adults.

Since its founding, the Center has flourished, hosting life course symposia and seminars, creating funding and educational opportunities for life course research, and developing an online research resource.

  • Symposia
    The Center recently conducted two life course symposia involving international representation of faculty and attendance across disciplines from local, regional and national sites; both were well-attended with 100-plus participants. The first, “Adverse Childhood Experiences: Consequences Across the Life Course,” was held in May 2017. It included leaders in the fields of psychiatry, life course epidemiology, medicine, behavioral science, and social work who presented on topics ranging from “Children Who Fail at School but Succeed at Life: Lessons from Lives Well-Lived” to “Childhood Trauma: Why You Should Care No Matter Who You Are, No Matter What You Do.” In November 2017, the Center hosted a second symposium, “Cognitive Resilience in Aging,” which explored the factors that contribute to cognitive and brain health in aging.
  • Resources
    The Center’s website has expanded within the ACTRI main website to include a resource listing and associated links for a variety of international datasets and biorepositories that are appropriate for life course research objectives. The listing ranges from the Danish National Birth Cohort and the UK Millennium Cohort Study to the 1934-66 Mysore Birth Records Cohort in South India and the Black Women’s Health Study. View and access these open resources, Cohorts for Life Course Research.
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship and Educational Courses
    In collaboration with the ACTRI Education unit, the Center created a two-year post-doctoral fellowship focused on life course in 2016, and has supported researcher Gretchen Bandoli, PhD, in studying the effect of maternal stress on offspring. In addition, the Center joined our Education unit in launching a new graduate level course on life course research focusing on life course methodologies. Nine students completed the course this year.
  • Pilot Projects
    The ACTRI Pilot Project Grant program expanded this year with a new category in Life Course Research and we are pleased that we received two submissions in this category. We will select the pilot awardees for 2018 early in the new year.

As we approach 2018, the Center is already planning its next symposium, “State-of-the-art Biomarkers of Aging across the Life Course,” to be held this Spring, and intends to continue its successful educational programs and pilot project support, and expand the Cohorts listing.

We encourage you to find out more about life course research and opportunities in this emerging field.

Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season.

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of ACTRI
Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine
Phone: (858) 822-3824