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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Leading experts on longitudinal research in ageing meet in Madrid

Published: 31 May 2016
ATHLOS meeting delegates
ATHLOS kick off meeting delegates with professor Zaidi in the centre of the front row.

Leading experts on ageing, including University of Southampton’s professor Asghar Zaidi, met on 30-31 May as part of the ATHLOS Project, at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). Their debate, focused on ageing trajectories of health, marks the beginning of a betting understanding of the ageing process.

ATHLOS is a five-year project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The ATHLOS (Ageing Trajectories of Health: Longitudinal Opportunities and Synergies) Project officially began on 1 May 2015, with kick-off meeting held on 11 and 12 May 2015 in Barcelona.

Focusing on research and innovation, ATHLOS aims to achieve a better understanding of ageing by identifying patterns of healthy and active ageing and their determinants. The project will ascertain risk and protective factors, their interactions, the life stages when they impact health the most, and how modifying these factors—through promotion, prevention and timely clinical and public health interventions—can improve the health of individuals and populations. This deeper understanding of ageing will also result in a more realistic definition of 'old age' rather than the standard chronological approach applied so far.

The ATHLOS Consortium comprises 14 partners from 11 European countries: PSSJD, Spain; University College London (UCL), United Kingdom (UK); King’s College London (KCL), UK; UAM, Spain; Spring Techno, Germany; Internationales Institut Fuer Angewandte Systemanalyse (IIASA), Austria; Karolinska Institutet (KI), Sweden; Schweizer Paraplegiker-Forschung (SPF), Switzerland; Terveyden Ja Hyvinvoinnin Laitos (THL), Finland; Fondazione IRCCS Instituto Neurologico Carlo Besta (FINCB), Italy; Uniwersytet Jagiellonski (UJ), Poland; University of Southampton (SOTON), UK; Harokopio University (HUA), Greece; and Age Platform Europe (AGE), Belgium. To adopt a more comprehensive approach, the research by partners and entrepreneurs was completed by AGE Platform Europe, which is a European network of approximately 150 organisations for people aged 50 or over.

To measure projections in each specific population and guide policy recommendations, existing longitudinal studies on ageing will be harmonised and a single metric of healthy ageing will be created. The new definition will then be used to calculate projections in each specific population and support adapted policy recommendations. ATHLOS will merge large sets of variables from longitudinal databases (at least 20 longitudinal studies) derived from several European and international studies. The Consortium will create and analyse a harmonised data set that includes the longitudinal studies identified, comprising more than 341,000 subjects. Experts from the areas of demography, sociology, clinical medicine, epidemiology and public health, health statistics, economics, data management, and public policy will be involved in this research.

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