About the Center for Lifetime Epidemiology Research

The CLER brings together expertise in population research ranging from maternal and child health, genetics and epigenetics, chronic diseases with a focus on the cardiovascular system, to aging outcomes such as maintenance of cognitive and physical performance and mobility with aging.

Center faculty have diverse interests and perform research with implications for health across the lifespan.

The center is situated in the Department of Epidemiology and serves as a home for the Bogalusa Heart Study Program. The overarching mission of the Center is to discover and develop knowledge to maintain health and prevent disease in individuals and populations across the lifespan. Our vision is to conduct research designed to improve lifelong health.

Currently Funded Research

Long term burden of maternal cardiovascular risk factors and birth outcomes

This study examines the relationship between vascular risk factors across the lifespan, birth outcomes, and pregnancy complications among participants in the Bogalusa Heart Study. Building on data collected in childhood and adulthood during the Bogalusa Heart Study examinations to identify risk factors over the life course (childhood, adolescence, and adulthood), it will be possible to develop interventions that improve both cardiovascular and reproductive health and could improve pregnancy outcomes.

Childhood secondhand smoke and longitudinal cardiovascular risk profile

Even small amounts of secondhand smoke exposure can increase cardiovascular disease risk. This study examines second hand smoke exposure in childhood and relates it to vascular risk markers from childhood through middle age in a bi-racial, rural community (thereby leveraging Bogalusa Heart Study data). The findings from this study will provide further insights into the potential underlying mechanisms of vascular disease and risk associated with the long-term influence of secondhand smoke exposure in childhood. Conclusions from this study will help strengthen the foundation for preventive strategies in early life, and promote comprehensive smoke-free legislation.

The role of vascular aging in cognitive and physical function

With more than 88 million Americans over 65 years and more than 19 million over 85 years old projected in the next 30 years, maintaining optimal health, both physical and cognitive, throughout the aging process is critical to minimize health care costs and morbidity and mortality associated with disease of aging. This study links vascular risk factors across the life span (collected in childhood and adulthood among Bogalusa Heart Study participants) and subclinical vascular measures in early middle age with cognitive and physical performance in later middle age. In doing so, the goal is to identify risk factors, timing and subpopulations for intervention that could reduce the incidence of cognitive and physical decline in old age and improve the rate of successful aging for persons across the nation and world-wide.

Evolution of cardiovascular risk with normal aging

Heart disease risk is determined by genetic and environmental factors and represents a major public health problem; however, the role of gene-environment interactions is largely unknown. This study examines epigenetic changes and patterns of DNA methylation among subjects who have participated in the Bogalusa Heart Study to provide a potential explanation for the joint impact of genes, DNA modifications and fetal growth on cardiovascular disease risk in order to develop effective prevention strategies.