Worldwide there are about 617 million people aged 65 or older, and this population continues to increase at an unparalleled rate. According to a report from the United States Census Bureau and commissioned by the National Institute on Aging, the current global population of older individuals of 8.5% is expected to surge to approximately 1.6 billion people, or almost 17% of the world's population, by 2050. The 65-and-over population of the United States is predicted to nearly double over the next three decades, from 48 million to 88 million Although it is well known that age is a risk factor for a variety of acute and chronic disorders, the mechanisms underlying aging, and the best way to minimize the effects of this process on health, are not well understood. Therefore, research into the mechanisms of the aging process and treatment of age-related diseases is critical. In addition, as the American population continues to age, there will be a growing need for physicians trained to care for the elderly and diseases related to aging. Finally, there continues to be a gap in the number of under-represented minorities trained as physicians and physician-scientists. The proposed program will address these issues by providing under-represented minority medical students with the opportunity to participate in aging research and to observe geriatricians in the clinic, with the idea of promoting a sustained interest in this field of medicine and research. The Program for Aging Research in the Summer, or PARIS, will build upon the success of a pilot program initiated as part of the Co-Principal Investigator's P01 Project, which for the past three years has arranged transportation, housing and research mentors for three students from the Puerto Rican medical school, Universidad Central del Caribe (UCC), to pursue aging research with one of the members of the Program Project. This program has gradually received positive publicity from the students, such that this past application period the number of applicants to the program far exceeded the number of slots available. Therefore, in the program described in this application we are proposing to increase the number of slots in the program, as well as to extend the opportunity to participate to medical students from other Puerto Rican medical schools, including Ponce Health Sciences University and San Juan Bautista School of Medicine. The goals of this program are to: (I) organize the participation of under-represented minority medical students in aging research at Augusta University, (II) develop didactic training in research methods and statistics for PARIS trainees, (III) organize a clinical observership for PARIS trainees with physicians caring for older individuals and (IV) establish a mechanism to sustain trainees' interest in aging research and track trainee outcomes. With this program we hope to encourage under-represented minority engagement in careers in geroscience and geriatrics.
- National Institute on Aging
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