Geriatric Health

The New England Centenarian Study at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, a groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research effort, is the largest such study in the world. It is trying to unlock the secrets of successful aging and open the door to preventing and treating age-related diseases.

While many studies are performed with lower organisms to study how aging happens and why it predisposes us to diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart attack, stroke, and cancer, the New England Centenarian Study is one of the few that focuses on exceptional human longevity.

The study, which began in 1994 in eight local towns enrolls centenarians around the world, including the world’s largest sample of supercentenarians—those 110 or older.

It has found that most centenarians live not only long lives, but also healthy and active ones. “Centenarians raise the bar for the rest of us,” says Professor Thomas Perls, study director. “We are trying to learn from them so that the rest of us can age not just longer but, more importantly, better.”

New findings from the research indicate a genetic basis for avoiding diabetes, cancer, and other diseases of aging but show that social support, exercise, and other lifestyle and personality characteristics also play a role.

The study’s basic work is funded by the National Institute on Aging and private foundations. Philanthropic support goes a long way toward broadening the study’s scope and accelerating discovery.

To learn how you can help, please contact the BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine Development team.

Learn more about the New England Centenarian Study.