Hello, I'm David Melzer.
I'm an epidemiologist
and a public health physician.
I work at the University of Connecticut
Center on Aging in the United States
as well as the University of Exeter
in the United Kingdom
and I'm going to talk about
methods of studying human aging.
The talk is based on five key ideas
or five key issues
that I'm going to give you
a taster of now
and then work through
in the remainder of the talk.
The first is that
the human aging process,
of course, is driven
by both biological aging
but also a lot of disease
and disability processes
which are, indeed, potentially avoidable
and rather different,
and at the moment
we find it very difficult to measure
just the biological part of aging
and we end up,
when we talk about human aging,
we're talking about
those various processes together.
The second issue is that
although human aging at the group level,
if you look at a group of people,
it appears to involve
in physiological systems
over long periods of time,
actually if you look in individuals,
the trajectories are very variable.
Some people remain active
and their systems remain
at high levels of capacity
right into very advanced ages,
other people age much more rapidly.
There is no standard pattern
which makes studying aging
in humans much more challenging.
The third assertion
is a little more startling
but there's an awful lot of evidence
now that perhaps the majority
of published scientific literature is,
in fact, false
and that's not just human studies
or epidemiological studies,
it's lab studies too.
There's ample evidence
that many of the papers
we see in the scientific journals
can't be replicated,
and we'll explore
some of the reasons for that
and talk about how to undertake
well-designed studies of human aging
and to build up evidence of causality.
So I'll try to convince you,
the randomized controlled trials,
and good study design
linked to laboratory studies
can build very strong evidence base
to discover new ways of helping people
to age well.
And finally, we are living in an age
where very large cohorts
are becoming available
and I'll talk about some cohorts
of half a million or a million people
where electronic clinical record systems
are providing data on
literally millions of people
over very long periods of follow-up
and where we have
promising new biomarkers to study,
to provide very powerful
So the main idea of this talk is:
"It's a great time
to be studying human aging!",
perhaps the best time there's been.