About ninety miles almost due south of Portland is Corvallis, Oregon. It’s a town of about fifty-five thousand people, including almost twenty thousand students at Oregon State University. It is also home to the Benton County Corrections Facility that added bunk beds in 1993 and so can now accommodate forty inmates. That’s notable because Corvallis ranked as the 14th safest city to live in by the national Farmers Insurance Group (2007). However, Corvallis did not make House Hunt’s 2010 list of safest cities in the U.S., most likely simply because its population doesn’t meet the minimum requirement of seventy-five thousand.
Somewhat like a Russian nesting doll, this central Willamette Valley town houses Oregon State University which supports the College of Health and Human Sciences which facilitates the Center for Healthy Aging Research created in 2005. But do not hunt for an actual building. The Center for Healthy Aging Research represents a “community of scholars” affiliated with OSU by intent and direction yet with a looser locus.
The Oregonian reported (11/29/09) OSU received more than $252 million in research dollars. This suggests #1, that some people down at OSU really know how to write effective research grant proposals; and #2 probably these same people are a.) on top if not ahead of current investigative trends and b.) loaded with credibility.
All of which goes to assert that OSU’s Center for Healthy Aging Research (CHAR) in Corvallis is successfully launched and alive and well. Part of its suitability emanates from projections for the year 2025. These projections suggest Oregon will bear the distinction of being fourth in the country in proportion of older adults. That’s a lot of older folks and one wonders where all the young people will be hanging out. (Will they have to move later?)
By the way, if you’re wondering where you land on the research/aging continuum, these are the general categories:
–Early Mid-life: 45-54
–Late Mid-life: 55-64
A major distinction for CHAR is that its scholars are able to secure funding for projects that are not disease oriented. This is amazing. Historically, and still in many circles, medical funding goes to projects that involve health care costs directly related to illness. Disease and disorders cost money. So, for example, a research proposal to study a promising new method for treating diabetes 1 can readily generate numbers showing any cost savings compared to current methods of treatment alongside projections of how many people will develop the disorder.
So what if one wants to investigate staying healthy? Not getting diabetes 1 in the first place? How about maybe increasing well-being? How does one encourage “optimal aging”? What is optimal aging? It’s much harder to generate health-care cost-saving numbers coming from this side. But the scholars at CHAR are managing, thank you.
A major strength of CHAR and its work is that it bridges research fields. True, there are some language difficulties but those are being addressed as well. However, in fact, any project must cross at least two fields in order to receive funding. These fields are:
~Diet, Genes & Aging
~Bone Health, Exercise & Function in Aging
~Psychosocial Factors & Optimal Aging
~Social & Ethical Issues in Technologies for Healthy Aging.
Next time with CHAR: more about what our scholars are doing.
*Map photo credit continued: The University of Texas at Austin.
Corvallis, red star and Pacific Ocean dragon additions created by Mickey Ronningen.