June 9, 2020

Jacob Griffin (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Inflammation and aging in a high activity and pathogenic burden environment

Spring 2020 Graduate Student Award in Social and Biological Determinants of Health

This project investigates how ecological context shapes biological age. The global expected lifespan has increased over the last century. It is predicted that by 2040, individuals over the age of 50 will account for 21% of the world’s population, and all regions of the globe will have more citizens over 60 than under 15.4 The question is why do some people age faster than others? Inflammation is one potential pathway through which pathogen exposure and physical activity impact biological age and the development of chronic degenerative conditions. This project will investigate how important environmental and culture factors, namely pathogen exposure and physical activity, impact inflammation and subsequently biological age. This study will be conducted with individuals the Northeastern Ecuadorian Amazon. They are an excellent population to address these questions because of their high rates of pathogen burden in combination with high activity due to lack of infrastructure and demanding physical labor.