Penn State Awarded Grant To Study Older African American Twins

November 13, 1997

University Park, PA-The College of Health and Human Development at Penn State has been awarded a $1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to study the health and psychosocial factors in older African American twins.

Directed by Keith Whitfield, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, this five-year study will help to identify the sources of individual variation (proportion of genetic and environmental influences) in health among African American twin pairs aged 65 years and older. Knowledge of these individual differences is expected to significantly contribute to the understanding of aging in a population that has experienced a different variety of environmental influences than other racial/ethnic groups. Knowledge about African Americans may allow greater insight into the role of environment and genetics in aging and what influences really affect health among the greater populace.

Whitfield has brought together a team of researchers for the study, including Gerald McClearn, Evan Pugh professor of health and human development and biobehavioral health and director of the college's Center for Developmental and Health Genetics; Toni Miles, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; and Robert Cairns, director of the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

They will perform in-person interviews with African American twins and their siblings who reside in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to assess cognition, mental health, physical health, personality, and social variables in later life.

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Press contact: Pam Peterson, College of Health and Human Development (814) 865-2155.

Penn State

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