FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT: R21 funding from the National Institute of Aging will provide clarity on why women tend to live longer than men

Dr. Tim Bruckner

Tim Bruckner, PhD, professor of health, society and behavior, with the UCI Program in Public Health and the co-director of the UCI Center for Population, Inequity, and Policy, was awarded an R21 grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes for Health, for nearly $450,000 over the next 2 years to study the reasons why males have a shorter lifespan compared to females, and whether this heightened male frailty is due to circumstances in the womb during pregnancy.

Reliable sources, based on individual health data, has shown that males have shorter lifespans than females, but less reliable data has focused on whether the reason for the shorter lifespan is due to consequences in the womb. With this funding, Bruckner and his colleagues will explore whether environmental conditions in the womb affect the health of the cohort of males that survive to older age. Using more than 1.7 million male and female individuals who were born between 1850 and 1940 from the Utah Population Database, the researchers will examine variation across time in this male frailty over the lifespan—from birth to older-age.

The researchers will focus on particular environmental stressors, such as the Great Depression, the 1918 flu, and drought, events that may have affected males in utero and shaped their health over the life course. Bruckner expects the findings to meet the National Institute for Aging’s goal to understand sex and gender differences in health and disease at older ages. And the study would also provide better understanding of the biological and social basis of male/female differences in lifespan.


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