Prestigious ZonMw Open Competition grant awarded to LUMC, VU and RIVM

Prestigious ZonMw Open Competition grant awarded to LUMC, VU and RIVM

Our life expectancy keeps increasing on a global scale. The increase in healthy lifespan, however, is lagging behind. Members of long-lived families often remain disease-free into exceptionally old ages. How is this possible? A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the LUMC, VU and RIVM received funding from ZonMw to answer this question. In a 5-year project they will disentangle the social, behavioral and genetic mechanisms that protect against age-related disease and that promote a healthy life span. The project will start around September 2021.

Long life in the family

Exceptional families in which most family members survive into extreme old ages in good physical and mental health illustrate that a healthy lifespan is physiologically possible. Unlike others, we look at genes and social-behavioral factors together for their effects on healthy ageing. Our multidisciplinary team aims to employ two approaches. In the first approach we will investigate the importance of genetic and non-genetic factors underlying familial-longevity and investigate the social-behavioral mechanisms that drive healthy aging. We will combine state of the art techniques from social sciences and biometrical genetics. In the second approach we will identify genetic variants in DNA sequencing data of long-living families and look for interaction with social-behavioral characteristics. The mechanistic drivers of these variants and pathways are expected to mediate beneficial effects on mortality, (multi)morbidity, metabolic health and infectious disease consequences. For our research we will recruit families in which their members reached exceptional longevity in multiple generations.

 Impact: healthy aging in the general population

Members of long-lived families escape or delay age-related diseases and (multi)morbidity up to very high ages. From them, we can learn about the underlying social-biological and genetic mechanisms and their interplay to ultimately identify targets for interventions delaying or preventing common chronic age-related disease in the general population.