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Measuring the pace of biological aging: Prevention opportunities

Prof. Terrie Moffitt

Professor of Social Development, King's College, London, and Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology, Duke University.

Terrie Moffitt’s expertise is in the areas of lifelong aging, mental health, and longitudinal research methods. She is the associate director of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, which follows a 1972 birth cohort in New Zealand. She also founded the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study (E-Risk), which follows a 1994 birth cohort in Britain. Moffitt is a licensed clinical psychologist, with specialization in neuropsychological assessment. Her current service includes chair of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences at the National Academies of Sciences, chair of the National Institute on Aging’s Data-Monitoring Committee for the Health and Retirement Study, NIA Board of Scientific Counselors, and chair of the jury for the Klaus J. Jacobs Prize (Switzerland). She is an elected fellow of the US National Academy of Medicine, British Academy, UK Academy of Medical Sciences, and Association of Psychological Science. Moffitt received her PhD in psychology at the University of Southern California, and completed her postdoctoral training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. She enjoys working on her poison-ivy farm in North Carolina

Our team has developed a new measure of an individual’s personal pace of current biological aging. It is designed to detect change in randomized clinical trials that aim to prevent disease and extend years of healthy life. To develop the new measure, we tracked decline in seven organ systems by repeatedly assessing 19 biomarkers at age 26, 32, 38, and 45, in a population-representative 1972 birth cohort of 1000 individuals, the Dunedin Study. The measure, now implementable by other research and clinical teams as a DNAmethylation blood test, is called DunedinPACE. It is the only aging measure trained on biological change. It has strong test-retest reliability and strong predictive validity in cohorts of men, women, different ethnic groups, and age groups. It is accelerated in people with chronic mental illness, accelerated in Alzheimer’s dementia patients, and slowed by caloric restriction. The talk will explain the advantages DunedinPACE offers over methylation clocks. That people born the same year are now ageing at very different rates in midlife has implications for how we think about aging as a social justice issue.

Life course approaches study to healthy longevity

Prof. Avshalom Caspi

Professor of Personality Development at King’s College London, and Edward M. Arnett Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University.

Caspi’s research spans the fields of psychology, epidemiology, and genetics. His work is concerned with three questions. (1) How do childhood experiences shape aging trajectories? (2) How do mental health problems unfold across and shape the life course? (3) What are the best ways to assess and measure accelerated aging?

Caspi is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association; the Ruane Prize for research in child psychiatry from the Brain & Behavior Foundation; and the Rema Lapouse Award for Significant Contributions to the Scientific Understanding of Epidemiology and Control of Mental Disorders from the American Public Health Association. Dr. Caspi received his PhD in developmental psychology at Cornell University. He served on the faculty at Harvard and the University of Wisconsin before moving to London and then Duke.  The pandemic enabled him to hone his photography and cooking and learn about farming, but he is excited about returning to his travels.

Learn more about Prof Moffitt and Prof Caspi at

Watch the webinar recording below

At this event

Terrie Moffitt profile

Chair in Social Behaviour & Development

Avshalom Caspi

Chair in Social/Personality Psychology