Tagged / Ageing

Nesta – Ageing Well Challenge

Image of an old lady in a wheelchair & close up of old man

Ageing Well Challenge Prize

 

Towards the later stages of life the quality of where we live takes on a greater significance, in particular social relationships and networks.  There is evidence that demonstrates the importance of supporting older people to live independently for as long as they can and that people too often lack the support networks and resources to make it possible. We know from research evidence that feeling connected and having supportive social relationships has a strong link to health and longevity.

Isolation is a major factor impacting on older people’s well-being and life expectancy.  Isolation and loneliness are not necessarily effects of the ageing process, but life events associated with older age such as leaving work, health decline and bereavement do put people at greater risk. At the same time, factors such as a good local environment and good social networks can help protect older people.

Being able to stay mobile is crucial to older people’s wellbeing, as loss of mobility means the loss of so many other things from their lives such as the ability to go shopping, meet friends and pursue hobbies and interests.

The pace of demographic change creates the need for radical new approaches to support older people to live well by mobilising community and civic resources more effectively. There are already some interesting innovations that seek to respond to this challenge, such as Care4Care and Good Gym, but the scale of the challenge demands more and there is good evidence that this is an area where social action has an important role to play. The involvement of older people in the design and development of ideas is also important in providing inclusive responses to older peoples’ needs.

Nesta are offering a prize for the innovation that can reduce the isolation and/or increase the mobility of vulnerable older people by providing new opportunities for communities to come together to give time, skills and resources.  Please visit their web site for more information.

 The RKE Operations team can help you with your application. 

EPSRC call ‘Design for Wellbeing: Ageing and Mobility in the Built Environment’

                             

Summary

EPSRC is leading a call with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and invites proposals from interdisciplinary consortia for evidence led research into ageing and mobility in the built environment. This call is being run under the auspices of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW) cross-council ageing research programme which supports research addressing factors throughout life that influence health and wellbeing in older age.

This call is seeking to create a step change in interdisciplinary engineering, social science and design research for wellbeing in the built environment. There is up to £7M available (EPSRC up to £4M, ESRC up to £2M and AHRC up to £1M) to support a maximum of five large multi-disciplinary projects of up to three years duration.

Prospective applicants will need to complete an Expression of Interest form by 12:00 on Monday 10 September 2012.

The expressions of interest will be assessed by an expert short listing panel in September 2012 and those aligned appropriately with the assessment criteria will be invited to submit full proposals. The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest is 12:00 on 10 September 2012. Those invited to submit a full proposal will be notified by the end of September 2012. The deadline for the submission of full proposals will be 28 November 2012, and will be peer-reviewed in March 2013 with the expectation that funding decisions will be made by the end of March 2013.

Timetable

There are two stages in the assessment process. This call invites Expressions of Interest (EoIs) which will be assessed by a shortlisting panel in September 2012. Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to submit full proposals.

Activity Date/Time
Call for Expressions of Interest May 2012
Call for Expressions of Interest submission deadline 12:00 noon on 10 September 2012
Applicants informed of outcome and full proposals invited        26 September 2012
Deadline for submission of full proposals 16:00 on 28 November 2012
Prioritisation panel March 2013
 
Documents to download
 
The RKE Operations team can help you with your application.

European Innovation Partnerships Updated Website and FAQs

You may remember I recently  published a blog post on Partnering in Research and Innovation which laid out the EC’s plans for how to improve partnering across Europe for research in Horizon 2020. This was particularly relevant for BU as topics included are Active and Healthy Ageing. The EC has recently updated its European Innovation Partnerships website and has added a FAQ section. The website now has a separate section on each of the three EIPs:

  1. Active and Healthy Ageing;
  2. Raw Materials;
  3. Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability.

The EIP on Active and Healthy Ageing was the first Partnership to be set up, and there are several pilot calls currently open under different programmes for projects in support of its Strategic Implementation Plan (please see the “Funding” section of the EIP Active and Healthy Ageing part of the website).

The FAQs contain questions and answers on topics such as:

  • the role of the Strategic Implementation Plan for an EIP;
  • how funding will be provided for Strategic Implementation Plans;
  • the timing for possible new EIPs;
  • the role of the Steering Group and Action Groups for the Active and Healthy Ageing EIP; and
  • the role envisaged for EIPs in implementing Horizon

I would recommend taking 10 mins out of your day to check out oen of the EIP websites if the areas are relevant for you.

Find out about Dr Samuel Nyman’s research into the psychosocial aspects of falls and their prevention in older people

Research by Age UK estimates that falls amongst older people in the UK could be costing the NHS in excess of £4.6m a day, with up to one in three people over 65 falling each year. Falls account for over 50% of hospital admissions among the over 70s, with around 14,000 older people dying annually in the UK after a fall. Evidence suggests that if older people regularly take part in exercise specially designed to improve strength and balance then their risk of falls can be cut by up to 55%. Dr Samuel Nyman in the Psychology Research Group (DEC) undertakes research primarily focused on the psychosocial aspects of falls and their prevention in older people, and has a particular interest in helping older people become physically active to prevent falls. His work has focused on how internet-based falls prevention advice can be made more motivating and inspiring for older people, and he was invited as a guest speaker to present his research at Arthritis Research UK’s Musculoskeletal Educators Conference in June 2011.

Samuel is part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, led by Prof Marcus Ormerod at the University of Salford, who have been awarded funding from the MRC-led cross-council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programme to conduct a year-long pilot study called: “Go Far (Going Outdoors: Falls, Ageing and Resilience)”. Go Far starts in January 2012 and will investigate the role of the outdoor environment in shaping health inequalities, explore older people’s experiences of falling outdoors, develop and test tools and techniques to evaluate the relationship between at-risk people and the outdoor environment, and develop a clear road map for future cross-disciplinary research in this area. The project will also involve experts from Age UK, the UK Health and Safety Laboratory, and Toronto Rehab.

Working with Dr Claire Ballinger (University of Southampton) and Prof Judith Phillips (Swansea University), Samuel’s contribution will be to explore through focus groups older people’s perceptions of the key risk factors for falling in the outdoor environment. This aspect of the project will lead to an understanding of the environmental risk factors which have yet to be accounted for in the current evidence base. Overall, the project will develop a greater understanding of the many factors involved in outdoor falls and create practical tools which will significantly help older people’s health and wellbeing.

Prior to this project Samuel undertook a systematic review of older people’s participation in falls prevention interventions. Earlier this year Samuel presented this research at a symposium in Italy for the European Congress of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, which he also co-chaired. He will also present this work as one of the six selected oral presentations at the forthcoming 12th International Conference on Falls and Postural Stability to be held in Manchester on 9 September 2011. The work has also been published as two journal articles in Age and Ageing, a leading international geriatrics journal:

Samuel is currently developing a website to use with older people later this year with the aim of identifying further (with the use of psychological theory) what are the best ways of communicating falls prevention advice to older people to facilitate their ability to continue to lead healthy, independent, and active lifestyles.

Hot off the press this week – 4 new EU calls for proposals and tenders!

Calls for Proposals
Information, Training & Assistance Centres in Latin America: Proposals should ensure the visibility of European satellite navigation activities, monitor local satellite navigation initiatives and support the EU satellite navigation industry through support of information, training and assistance centres and activities, in Latin America. Deadline 15.09.11

Youth Support Systems: This call for proposals aims at supporting partnerships with regions, municipalities, civil society actors and bodies active in corporate social responsibility in order to develop over the long-term projects which combine various measures of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme. This mechanism aims at encouraging synergies and cooperation between the European Commission — via the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency — and the different actors working in the field of youth by pooling resources and practices with a view to maximising the impact of the programme and to reaching out to a higher number of beneficiaries. Deadline 03.11.11

Calls for Tenders
Stimulating Innovation for EU Enterprises through ICT: The objective of this action is to assess the policy context, concept, implementation, results and economic impact of the EU policy initiative eBSN (eBusiness support network for SMEs), focusing in particular on the initiative on ‘Stimulating innovation for European enterprises through smart use of ICT’, encompassing a series of industry-specific demonstration actions to stimulate innovation among European SMEs through smart use of ICTs. Deadline 06.10.11

Guidance for Active Age Management – Supporting Longer Working Lives of Older Workers: The aim of this Europe-wide study is to investigate how lifelong guidance is embedded in the European Union and national policies and strategies on active ageing as well as in employer’s age management strategies supporting older workers’ (55+) lifelong learning and skills development, and within this context to what extent various guidance services available to this target group in real terms address the issue of staying longer in employment (instead of making an early exit from working life). Deadline 26.09.11

€4.2M Healthy Ageing in the EU Research funds just released!

Europe’s first joint call for ageing research ‘ERA-AGE 2’ has been released with a whopping €4.2M available. Research Councils from across Europe have contributed to this fund which aims to increase healthy ageing and increase life expectancy by two years within the European Union by 2020.
This call enables researchers from all disciplines to put in applications addressing “Active and healthy ageing across the life course”. The research funded will aim to generate new insights on the factors that enable individuals to live actively and healthily into later life. Applications are invited from multidisciplinary research groups representing three to five funding countries. Stage-one pre-proposals can be submitted until 3 October 2011 under three areas:
1. Generate new knowledge on the biological, clinical, behavioural, social and environmental factors that enable individuals to live actively and healthily into later life.
2. Explore comparatively different models, methods, approaches and good practices in societal responses to increased longevity which emphasise both social inclusion and sustainability.
3. Engage in effective knowledge exchange activities that will assist European and other countries to achieve the goal of increasing healthy life expectancy by two years by 2020.

Ageing (Kevin McGhee, Wei-Jun Liang, M. David Osselton)

Author: Kevin McGhee, Wei-Jun Liang, M. David Osselton (ApSci)

Alternative name suggestion: Genomics and Ageing (as a variant or sub-theme perhaps?)

Brief theme summary:  Demographically, the town of Bournemouth is enriched with an older, predominantly Caucasian population. Studies already proposed within this blog forum suggest that data of a phenotypic nature is available within the BU community. By introducing genomics as a tool to enhance the understanding of several themes: Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, Culture and Society and Environmental Change and Biodiversity we believe that expertise within the Forensic and Biological Sciences group (ApSci) can create new opportunities for research.

We propose to collect DNA from the Bournemouth geographical area and match this with existing phenotypic data to create a rich knowledge databank that we can share with existing and future genomic collaborative initiatives, leading to high impact papers.

Scope of theme: what is included? Gene x environment interaction; population genetics; psychological genetics; cognitive genetics; cancer genetics; cardiovascular genetics; genetics of ageing; biological ageing; toxicogenomics, functional genomics; cellular ageing; Alzheimer’s; dementia.

Scope of theme: what is excluded? Not entirely sure – open for discussion.

Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?

Societal question: What is my risk of developing an illness e.g. Cardiovascular disease*?  It is known that fatty streaks can appear on the major arteries of children as young as one year old. Through environmental influences such as diet, nutrition, exercise and co-morbidity, the risk of an individual child developing atherosclerosis in later adult life can change in response to a number of lifestyle factors. However, at a cellular level individual variation in genes involved in atherosclerosis pathogenesis influence how one’s lifestyle factors modify that risk (and vice versa). By combining data from health science, social science and psychology with biological data such as DNA, a greater understanding of the profound interaction between genes and environment can be achieved (*This can be substituted for any disease of your choice).

Can you pose these questions?  If the phenotypic data is already available (i.e. social, health status, psychological study) then yes we can. In collaboration with HSC, DEC and others we would have to obtain DNA from individuals from the Bournemouth area and then link the genomic data with the phenotypic data. This will require enormous computing power and experts in e.g. the statistical package ‘R’ as well as genomics expertise from ApSci

How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?

Of the seven research councils forming RCUK, two have current themes on genomics and ageing (BBSRC and MRC) and one further council’s (ESRC) theme investigating social science and culture and science.  The MRC has recently closed the Phase III call with Phase I seeing the creation of three fully funded centres: Edinburgh, Newcastle and UCL.  The Edinburgh centre already has a paper in press (Molecular Psychaitry) combing a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) with a vast array of phenotypic data, of which McGhee is a co-author (Davis et al, 2011).   By combining data on the local population already available within eg HSC, with the proposed collection of DNA from Bournemouth and surrounding areas, it allows BU to enter  collaborations on an international scale addressing the ‘big questions’ posed by the thress councils above.

Furthermore the Wellcome Trust’s strategic plan 2010-2020 has five main themes:

  • Maximising the health benefits of genetics and genomics
  • Understanding the brain
  • Combating infectious disease
  • Investigating development, ageing and chronic disease
  • Connecting environment, nutrition and health

Under the proposed BU theme of ageing, at least four out of the five Wellcome themes above can contribute to some aspect of ageing whilst facilitating multi-disciplinary research between schools and indeed, other institutions. By creating a repository of genomic and phenotypic information, it allows BU to enter collaborations with research intensive universities, increasing our prospects for high impact papers.

Reference:  Gail Davies, Albert Tenesa, Antony Payton, Jian Yang, Sarah E. Harris, David Liewald, Xiayi Ke, Stephanie Le Hellard , Andrea Christoforou, Michelle Luciano, Kevin McGhee, Lorna Lopez, Alan J. Gow, Janie Corley, Paul Redmond, Helen C. Fox, Paul Haggarty, Lawrence J. Whalley, Geraldine McNeill, Michael E. Goddard, Thomas Espeseth, Astri J. Lundervold, Ivar Reinvang, Andrew Pickles, Vidar M. Steen, William Ollier , David J. Porteous, Michael Horan, John M. Starr, Neil Pendleton, Peter M. Visscher, Ian J. Deary. 2011. Genome-wide association studies establish that human intelligence is highly heritable and polygenic. Molecular Psychiatry (in press)

How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration?

Ageing links with the BU themes: Health and Wellbeing, Culture and Society and even Environmental Change and Biodiversity, opening up further avenues for funding. It takes little imagination to identify ageing with health and wellbeing but with culture and society this may require some more imagination. For example, by comparing different populations e.g. China and UK and looking at both their environmental and social structure we can then infer how these variables combined with genomics have an impact on health and wellbeing as well as healthy ageing.

By stretching our imagination even further, it is possible to link Environmental Change and Biodiversity with Ageing. For example, one could take the view that as an individual grows older the environment, in which they live both locally and globally, is constantly under change. Sustainable fish stocks as a topical example has an effect both environmentally within the world’s oceans but also affects humans as a source of food and nutrients. It would be interesting to research how the ageing process and cognitive outcome of a five year old child now will be in 60 years’ time when compared to a 65 year old individual now and the foodstuffs available to them as a five year old child in 1951. Environmental, Biochemical, Genetic and Toxicological studies can all contribute to this theme.

This is obviously only one example of how several research themes can join together and we welcome discussion from colleagues on the suggestions we have raised.

Guidance Paper for European Innovation Partnerships on Active and Healthy Ageing Steering Group released

The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing working paper gives an overview on the EIP AHA’s targets and objectives and its role (headline target to add two healthy life years to the average life span of European citizens) and detailed guidance on the role and functioning of the high-level steering group, including a list of already nominated members in the Annex to the document. The group is composed of 33 members, including representatives from the European institutions, Joint Programming Initiatives, industry and European interest organisations, as well as a selected number of representatives from some EU member states. The paper also outlines a proposed timetable for the work of the steering group; the first meeting took place in May 2011, the strategic innovation plan should be finalised in autumn 2011, and the EC aims to analyse the plan by the end of 2011. It will then be presented in a Communication to the Council and European Parliament, and should then start with the implementation phase