As the world population gets older, we need to find ways of protecting ourselves and ensuring we are healthier for longer. One way of doing that is to understand what makes us resilient, and that is what we’re aiming to achieve through this research programme.Professor Claire Steves, Professor of Ageing and Health and the Clinical Director of TwinsUK
03 October 2023
TwinsUK wins multi-million-pound award for resilience research
TwinsUK has received a multi-million pound award to study resilience in health and ageing, in Wellcome Leap’s Dynamic Resilience program, jointly funded by Temasek Trust.
Led by TwinsUK’s Clinical Director Professor Claire Steves, 2,000 twins will be invited for clinic visits to collect post-pandemic health data and samples through a study named Resilience after COVID-19. The team will then analyse these, together with data collected before and during the pandemic, to further investigate known and suspected sources of resilience in the body.
Resilience is the capacity to withstand or bounce back quickly from difficulties, including stressors and disease. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major stressor for everyone during 2020-2022, both in terms of the disease itself as well as the wider impact on wellbeing due to lockdowns and shielding mandates.
The Resilience after COVID-19 study at TwinsUK will allow researchers to understand how certain processes in the body – including inflammation, changes to the microbiome and altered metabolism – affect resilience, using the twin design to control for and unpick genetic and environmental contributions. This in turn will help identify sources of resilience which can be targeted to promote healthy ageing.
She added: "This work is only possible thanks to our twins’ dedication and contributions over many years before and during the pandemic, providing samples and answering questionnaires. Eligible TwinsUK members will be invited to take part in the Resilience after COVID-19 study over the next three years, so do keep an eye on your inbox.”
In addition, the Dynamic Resilience program has also funded research at the University of Birmingham, in which collaborators at King’s will study blood and stool samples collected before and after cancer patients undergo treatment. They will use computational learning methods to understand how changes in hallmarks of ageing relate to clinical changes and how such changes could be developed as predictive biomarkers of resilience.