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Research on Racial Differences in Aging Compounds Earns Award

Madison, Wisconsin - Research showing that Americans of African and European descent differ from Japanese adults in their levels of a key factor involved in the biology of aging won the inaugural annual prize for the Best 2011 Research in Health & Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that a collaborative team including Wisconsin psychology professor Dr. Christopher L. Coe won the prize for their paper entitled "Population Differences in Proinflammatory Biology: Japanese Have Healthier Profiles than Americans."


The research was published in 2011 in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Other members of the team include Dr. Carol D. Ryff, director of the UW Institute on Aging; Gayle Love, an Institute on Aging researcher, and colleagues from several other institutions in Japan and the United States.


They found that blood levels of interleukin-6, an important cytokine, produced by white blood cells as well as fat cells, and key factor in the biology of aging and the physiology of inflammation, are "strikingly lower" in Japanese than in Americans, and are notably high in African-Americans. This physiological difference correlates with national differences in the prevalence of age-related illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


The findings of national and racial differences also highlight the importance of broadening the diversity of people included in population studies of health and aging. Moreover, the findings reported in this novel paper emphasize the importance of considering the dramatic influence that diet and obesity is having on population health.


Professor John Mullahy, of the population health sciences department at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, says the annual award is designed to call attention to scholarship published by faculty and academic staff during calendar year that addresses aspects of population health or health and society.


"We saw many impressive nominations that suggest scholarship on health and society topics at UW-Madison is vibrant across the campus," says Mullahy, who co-directs the UW's Health & Society Scholars Program with Profs. David Kindig and Stephanie Robert. "We congratulate Professor Coe and his colleagues on this accomplishment."

Date Published: 04/12/2012

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Research on Racial Differences in Aging Compounds Earns Award

Last updated: 04/20/2012
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