Study Of Longevity And Stress In African Americans

The Study of Longevity and Stress in African Americans (SOLSAA) is a 5-year project sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.

On average, African Americans have shorter life expectancies than the overall population. However, there is a subset of African Americans who live well beyond 80 years of age who are considered “exceptional survivors”. Few, if any studies have taken a comprehensive approach to investigate biopsychosocial factors that shape health outcomes among older African Americans. The goal of SOLSAA is to identify patterns of stress, discrimination, sources of resilience, health status, and genes that contribute to longevity observed within African American families. We are examining these factors using vertical and horizontal approaches by studying similarities between parent-child and sibling pairs.

The study has five specific aims:

Collect data from 750 older African Americans on perceptions of stress, discrimination, coping style, health, personality and genetics from multi-generation families (parent-child and siblings).
Examine similarities and differences in stress and coping, and health status among sibling pairs and across generations within families.
Compare the health status of siblings concordant for higher stress and poorer coping to those with lower stress and better coping.
Examine genes associated with stress and longevity in comparisons of long-lived families and short-lived families and among sibling pairs.
Investigate whether there are gene-environment interactions between genes associated with stress and longevity and environmental factors such as family financial adversity and discrimination. This project is novel and innovative in that it will employ a multi-method approach to understand longevity.
Tyson H. Brown is the PI of the $2.8M SOLSAA subcontract at Duke. The study team at Duke also includes biologist Mike Hauser, a study coordinator (Camela Barker), and four full-time staff members who are conducting interviews and analyzing data. Keith E. Whitfield (Wayne State University) and Roland J. Thorpe (Johns Hopkins University) are the principal investigators of the parent grant (R01 AG05436).