The NIA supported Animal Models Research Network  under the leadership of Jenny Tung, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology at Duke University, Alessandro Bartolomucci, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology at University of Minnesota, and Kathleen Mullan Harris,  James E. Haar Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UNC, has recently selected its 2021-2022 cohort of Bruce McEwen Career Development Fellows. These awards support outstanding junior scientists with high potential to advance the use of animal models or comparative approaches to understand the social determinants of health and aging.

The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs held held an  expert meeting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 10 and 11 May 2021. Marcos Rangel, Associate Professor in the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, presented  Pandemics and fertility: Lessons from the Brazilian Zika virus epidemics .

The Durham County Social Determinants of Health (DCSDH) is a large, address-level contextual database that merges multiple publicly available demographic, employment, tax, housing, and health metrics from Durham County into a single database. This dataset is being made available as part of DPRC's Durham Population Lab initiative and is of particular interest to researchers interested in population health, education, and employment. More information about the data set and how to access it can be found here. DUPRI has also contributed funding to provide subscription access to CMIE's Consumer Pyramidsdx data. This dataset, collected by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) is the world’s largest household panel survey; it interviews over 174,000 households (and all members) three times a year since the panel was started in 2014. As of May 2021, the 23rd wave is currently being collected. The dataset has four components that provide demographic, employment, income, consumption, and time use data. The subscription provides access for Duke users through May 2022. More information about the dataset is available here. Instructions for accessing the data are available here. If you have questions about the data, please contact Manoj Mohanan. 

Female baboons may not have bills to pay or deadlines to meet, but their lives are extremely challenging. They face food and water scarcity and must be constantly attuned to predators, illnesses and parasites, all while raising infants and maintaining their social status. A new study appearing April 21 in Science Advances shows that female baboons with high life-long levels of glucocorticoids, the hormones involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response, have a greater risk of dying than those with lower level

As the premier conference for demographers and social and health scientists in the United States, the Population Association of America (PAA) not only offers an opportunity for faculty to present their research and learn about new findings, but it also provides Duke faculty, graduate students  and postdoctoral associates the opportunity to more fully engage with the broader population research community. In 2021 Duke researchers, post-doctoral students, and graduate students participating in the 2021 Virtual PAA Annual Meeting represent over forty scientific sessions and scientific panels on topics ranging from aging, health and longevity to innovative data collection methods and approaches. Check out the full preliminary schedule, and Duke’s PAA participation across the years.

In this study, investigators  sought to answer the question, “What social or early life experiences determine why some baboons biologically age faster than others?” This question is important to understanding why such experiences predict differences in fertility or survival, and provide insight into how different life experiences affect Darwinian fitness. The study team demonstrated  that DNA methylation-based “clocks” are strong predictors of age in wild primates. Contrary to expectation, neither early adversity nor social bond strength, which both strongly predict lifespan in the  study population, affect the rate at which these clocks tick. However, male baboons who compete successfully for high social status appear to age faster. By repeatedly sampling some of these males, the study also shows that the clock can speed up or slow down as males move up or down the social ladder. Thus, this measure of biological age seems to reflect the immediate experiences of the animals in the sample, and suggests that physical competition for high status is costly.

Kenneth Dodge, William McDougall Distinguished Professor of Public Policy Studies, V. Joseph Hotz, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Economics, William Copeland, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, and Kathleen Cagney, Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago,  were recently awarded the NIA funded, The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Rural Aging [R01AG072459].  This multimillion dollar award will collect data to augment the longitudinal Great Smoky Mountains Study (GSMS) to create a national data resource, the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Rural Aging (GSMS-RA), for the study of early determinants of the aging experience in a rural context, capturing the full arc of a life with intimate detail about living and aging in a rural context.

Demography, the Population Association of America’s flagship journal, under the auspices of Duke University Press,  is now openly available to all, with no paywall or access barriers, starting with its 2021 volume. 

Duke professor Herman Pontzer has spent his career counting calories. Not because he’s watching his waistline, exactly. But because, as he sees it, “in the economics of life, calories are the currency.” Every minute, everything the body does — growing, moving, fighting infection, even just existing — “all of it takes energy,” Pontzer says. In his new book, “Burn,” the evolutionary anthropologist recounts the 10-plus years he and his colleagues have spent measuring the metabolisms of people ranging from ultra-athletes to office workers, as well as those of our closest animal relatives, and some of the surprising insights the research has revealed along the way.

Edited by Jennifer Lansford, Research Professors at the Sanford School of Public Policy,  Andrew Rothenberg, Research Scientist at the Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy and Marc Bornstein, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Parenting Across Cultures From Childhood to Adolescence advances understanding of how parenting from childhood to adolescence changes or remains the same in a variety of sociodemographic, psychological, and cultural contexts, providing a truly global understanding of parenting across cultures.