Interdisciplinary Research Groups
The ONPRC has established Interdisciplinary Research Groups in the areas of Biology of Aging, Early Childhood Health and Development, and Primate Genetics to analyze and plan interdisciplinary research, and to inform areas of future recruitment.
Biology of Aging
As human life expectancy continues to increase, there is a growing need for scientific knowledge about ways to promote healthy aging. The objective of the Biology of Aging Program is to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie normal and pathological human aging, and to help with the development of effective therapies for age-associated diseases.
Key studies conducted by investigators at ONPRC have demonstrated age-related changes in several physiological systems in the rhesus macaque, paralleling those reported in humans. For example, they have found that female macaques undergo menopause, and show associated perturbation of their cicadian rhythms, as well as declines in their immune function and cognitive abilities. Furthermore, ongoing studies are yielding clinically relevant discoveries, that are helping physicians to: 1) evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of various hormones for cognitive and emotional health in postmenopausal women; 2) determine how diet modulates age-related decline in immune function, circadian physiology, learning and memory; and 3) enhance vaccine efficacy and reduce morbidity and mortality following infection by delaying the aging of the immune system.
Such multi-disciplinary approached are made possible because of the world-class scientists and clinicians who make up the aging research consortium at OHSU. In addition, the maintenance of an aging rhesus macaque colony at ONPRC represents a major valuable resource. Nonhuman primate models provide several distinct advantages over rodents and have the potential to disclose important inter-related mechanisms that underlie human aging. This strength fosters the advancement of the basic, translational, and clinical research required to improve lives at later ages, and ensure healthy longevity, free of the disabilities brought about by age-related diseases and conditions.
The ONPRC Biology of Aging Program is an active component of the OHSU Healthy Aging Alliance.