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May 3, 1995

Gerontology Researchers Sharpen Focus but Face More Complex Challenges as 21st Century Looms

JAMA. 1995;273(17):1322-1325. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520410016004

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FUTURE LONGITUDINAL studies of aging will examine, among other factors, how the process of growing older reduces independent functioning and increases vulnerability to morbidity and mortality, plus what can be done about this and when to do it.

That is the prediction of James L. Fozard, PhD, and some colleagues in Baltimore, Md, at the Gerontology Research Center (GRC), National Institute on Aging (NIA), where the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) has been under way since 1958 (JAMA. 1967;201:32).

Fozard, who is the NIA's associate scientific director for the BLSA, says it is important to study prospectively the often subtle age-related changes in the underlying mechanisms of human functioning.

That is, many gerontology researchers are saying, it is important to understand those factors associated with aging that lead to the increasing susceptibility to disease and loss of functional ability.

Cost of 'Growing Up'  The underlying mechanisms begin to exert

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