Longer Life Foundation grants awards to researchers

The Longer Life Foundation, a cooperative effort between the School of Medicine and the Reinsurance Group of America (RGA), has awarded grants to seven University researchers to investigate several aspects of healthy aging as well as the mental health of breast cancer patients and aspects of behavior in obese children.

The foundation’s activities at the University are coordinated through the Longer Life Center in the medical school’s Division of Health Behavior Research.

The foundation funds independent research that studies ways to improve methods for predicting long-term mortality from various diseases or for promoting quality and quantity of life. Over the past several years, the foundation has awarded just under $1.5 million to the University.

Researchers who received 2005 grant awards include Nancy Morrow-Howell, Ph.D., the Ralph & Muriel Pumphrey Professor of Social Work in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. She received a $75,000 multidisciplinary grant for a project called “Activity Portfolios: Engagement and Health in Later Life.”

Other grants include three full awards of $20,000-$40,000 to Stephen K. Kornfeld, M.D., the David C. and Betty Farrell Professor of Medicine and associate professor of molecular biology and pharmacology, who will look at the relationship between longevity and anticonvulsant medicines.

Also, Reina Villareal, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases, is studying the effect of a genetic variation on cognitive function. Meanwhile, Mark Walker, Ph.D., instructor of medicine in the Division of Health Behavior Research, will look into mental health history and survival among breast cancer patients.

The foundation also awarded three grants for less than $5,000 to Dorothy Edwards, Ph.D., associate professor of occupational therapy; Susan Stark, Ph.D., assistant professor of occupational therapy; and Denise Wilfley, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry. Those grants will fund research into social engagement among older adults and factors related to obesity in children.

The call for grant applications for 2006 will occur in February with a March deadline for those proposals. For more information, contact Joan Heins at 286-1912 or jheins@wustl.edu.