As our population ages, the prevalence of age-related diseases increases. Calendar and biological age are the most important risk factors for major age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. In the coming decades, the increasing number of older people will challenge our healthcare system due to the increased healthcare consumption related to ageing. More importantly, for older people ageing and its associated diseases contribute to loss of functional capacity, both physical and mental, and loss of quality of life. The aim of the LUMC theme “Lifecourse Epidemiology and Geroscience” is “to leverage education and the scientific knowledge base on ageing to develop and implement innovative solutions to promote a longer and healthier lifecourse of our patients and the ageing society”
To reach our aim we will combine our scientific expertise in the fields of Lifecourse Epidemiology and Geroscience. Lifecourse epidemiology studies the role of long-term physical, psychological or socio-behavioral capacities and exposures that act during development and early adult life on later life health and disease risk. The lifecourse has several phases, starting with development and childhood to early and late adulthood. D changes occur at every level of biological organization (organs, tissues, cells, molecules). Together, these changes determine the rate of physiological decline and loss of homeostasis that ultimately contribute to diseases and mortality. During the later stages of the lifecourse, the biological changes contribute to the ageing process, which is highly individual and heterogeneous. The accompanying alterations are being monitored in multi-dimensional data of biological systems and time frames. Approaches in epidemiological studies, becoming increasingly integrated and computationally intensive, include observations at the molecular, cellular, (patho)physiological, psychosocial and imaging level and contribute to biomarker research. Geroscience is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to define the biological mechanisms of aging that give rise to a spectrum of age-related diseases and disorders (Sierra 2016). Geroscience research disentangles the ageing process in modifiable components to facilitate attenuation of age-related disease, and to positively contribute to health span and life span. This research yields insights into prevention of age-related disease and decline and how to deliver adequate care to older people in line with their needs and preferences.