Social and Biological Determinants of Health Working Group


Under Jenny Tung’s Leadership the Social and Biological Determinants of Health Working Group has synthesized and worked to harmonize biological concepts used in primate research with demographic concepts defining human population aging research.

The collaborative includes members of CPHA, the Carolina Population Center (CPC) researchers and other faculty from the Wake Forest University, the University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt University, Arizona State University and beyond. The goal of the group is to better understand how patterns of senescence vary across species and co-vary with social structure and ecology with implications for human aging. 

With a focus on bridging gaps across disciplines, the collaborative encourages dialogue between, and contributions from, sociologists, demographers, physiologists, evolutionary biologists, epidemiologists and geneticists working together to routinize the scientific exchange over aging questions shared by both. The ultimate benefit of this exchange is to achieve causal explanations of biosocial relationships in health and mortality.

Collaborative activities include seminars co-presented by human health behavior and animal researchers, research talks and a jointly-authored review in Science on congruence between studies of social adversity and health in humans and other animals.

Collaborative research and training/mentorship opportunities for postdoctoral students and junior faculty include recent pilot awards to Susan Alberts for her project, Effects of Maternal Early Life Adversity on Maternal Care and Offspring Survival in Wild Baboons, and to Jenny Tung for their work on the Development of Quantifications of Biological Age in Rhesus Monkeys to Test Causal Effects of Early-Developmental Stress and Social Status on The Rate of Aging.


Science Review: The Social and Biological Determinants of Health