Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Unusual Source of Inspiration

See also:
-- 'Books Forum' blog
-- 'Health Studies' blog



Greetings,

I wonder what kinds of inspiration do you have in your life and research activities? Is it a great music, inspiring picture, absorbing book, scenic views, and/or a significant other?

Recently I have encountered a new unusual source of inspiration -- the NIH Summary Statement! Usually it is considered to be a bureaucratic document, which summarizes the results of a closed discussion of your research proposal by the panel of experts at the National Institute of Health, NIH. Typically this is a candid anonymous review, which is often painful to read to a scientist, the author of the reviewed proposal.

However, this time things are completely different. Our new research project was thoroughly evaluated by a review panel of 20 experts at NIH and the project was rated as being among the best 5 percent of all approved (scored) applications. Here is what they wrote (excerpts):
Summary Statement for Project "Biodemography of Exceptional Longevity in the United States"

Resume and Summary of Discussion:

"This ... application, by an eminent investigator, would use a variety of modeling methods to determine the social and biological factors linked to living to age 100. This is a major question for all fields of aging research. It is highly innovative application because it is going to examine a large relatively representative sample of those who reach 100. The approach is well-suited to the aims of the project. ... Strengths of the application include the significance of the aims, an innovative and carefully considered research design, a solid research team, supporting pilot research and well specified analytical methods. "


Critique 1:

Significance:
"This ... application, addresses early life covariates of extreme longevity in the U.S. This is a significant research topic with potential implications for health intervention in premature mortality and the proposed research could provide important confirmation, or refutation, of many theorized early life covariates of longevity."

Approach:
".... this is an innovative application utilizes genealogical, census, social-security, Internet and military data in a well crafted research design. "

Innovation:
"The application is an innovative one with a creative sample construction."

Investigators:
"This is an outstanding research team with an eminent Principal Investigator."

Overall Evaluation:
"This ... application, by an eminent investigator, would use a variety of modeling methods to study the effect of early life course circumstances on cases of extreme longevity in the United States. Strengths of the application include the significance of the aims, an innovative and carefully considered research design, a solid research team, supporting pilot research and well specified analytical methods."


Critique 2:

Significance:
"... a highly significant application. The project addresses important questions with an extremely innovative approach. Why some people live to 100 and others do not has been a focus of much NIA research, although much of this longevity research has been performed on other species. This application will provide increased understanding of how humans survive to very old ages using representative populations."

Approach:
"This application is harnessing the resources available on the Internet to address a very important scientific question. How do both social and biological factors affect the likelihood of living to very old age. The investigators have an unusually thorough command of both biological and the social literature appropriate to this question. The project will result in the examination of about 3,000 centenarians. Information on their early, adult, and later life is available. The combination of Census, Army, and Genealogical data is truly exciting. In addition, areal level data will be appended which has not been done before in analyses of long lives."

Innovation:
"The project is quite exciting because of the careful planning behind the proposed collection of available data in a novel way to address an important question which has not been well-addresses to date."

Investigators:
"This is an excellent team. The Principal Investigator, Leonid Gavrilov, is well-recognized as a biologist but he has made remarkable strides in becoming very multidisciplinary through the mechanism of a K award. The co Principal Investigator, Gavrilova, is also well-recognized as a biologist with many important publications related to the project. She, too, has undertaken recent training by getting a master's in computer science from the University of Chicago. This application builds on this strength in its approach to data collection."

Overall Evaluation:
"This is ... application with the major goals of determining social and biological factors linked to living to 100. This is a highly significant area because this is a major question for all fields of aging research. The approach is well-suited to the aims of the project. It is highly innovative application because it is going to examine a large relatively representative sample of those who reach 100. The major strengths of the application are its innovative use of publicly available data."


Critique 4:

Significance:
"This application will attempt to identify early life characteristics, which are associated with extreme long life. This is a highly significant issue. It has significant potential, depending upon the variables identified, to inform public health policy concerning longevity."

Innovation:
"This is an innovative study. It will assemble a unique data set concerning the early life characteristics of the elderly and a set of "controls". This will be a unique and useful resource for analysis of early life effects on mortality.

Investigators:
"This is an excellent research team. Gavrilov and Gavrilova are both productive and experienced researchers in the area of human aging."

Environment:
"The environment at the University of Chicago is excellent."

Overall Evaluation:
"This is ... application by an eminent research team that will assemble and analyze a unique data set concerning early life conditions on extreme longevity. In particular, the study will focus on socio economic factors and height and build. The analysis is well described and theoretically justified for the most part."


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So we have now a new awarded research project of certified high scientific merit, and we are open to collaboration on this new NIH Longevity Study !

Please feel free to post your comments and suggestions below by clicking here.


Key words:
Inspiration, NIH Summary Statement, Longevity, centenarians, biodemography, NIH, NIA, longevity genes, parental age, birth order, early-life living conditions, adult physical characteristics, reproductive history, Biodemography of Exceptional Longevity, Leonid Gavrilov, Natalia Gavrilova, Center on Aging, United States, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Social Security Administration datasets, Census data, family reconstitutions, genealogies, military draft records, early-life childhood conditions.


Home:
Longevity Science Blog
and
Longevity Science: An Unusual Source of Inspiration
Shorter weblink:
http://tinyurl.com/d9mgga
and
http://tinyurl.com/NIH-approved

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Levinson Axelrod said...

These statements and critiques are great inspiration.

10:41 AM  

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