Photo of the presenters and chair. Photo: Mariam Kirvalidze

On November 21, NEAR attended and held a symposium at the Swedish Graduate School on Ageing and Health (SWEAH) conference in Norrköping. SWEAH is a multidisciplinary research school on aging and health, which Lund University coordinates. The theme of the conference was: “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sustainable Ageing” and was aimed at researchers at all levels of aging and health at SWEAH’s 13 partner universities. 

The NEAR symposium “High-Quality Big Data for Geriatric Research: Experiences from the Swedish National E-infrastructure for Aging Research (NEAR)”, presented the infrastructure and research results from two NEAR projects. NEAR’s Scientific Promoter, Davide Liborio Vetrano, chaired the session. The Scientific Coordinator of NEAR, Debora Rizzuto, started by giving an overview of NEAR. She also addressed the importance and need for high-quality big data in longitudinal epidemiology, how NEAR works, and how to apply NEAR data. 

Photo of Debora Rizzuto. Photo: Mariam Kirvalidze

Shireen Sindi, Karolinska Institutet, presented results from the recently accepted NEAR study: “Sleep disturbances and cognition among older adults: A multicentre study of five Nordic cohorts“. This study aimed to explore the associations that exist between self-reported sleep disturbances and cognitive domains. Four NEAR population studies: the Gothenburg H70 Birth Cohort Study (H70); Kungsholmen Project (KP), Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Skåne (SNAC-S), and Kungsholmen (SNAC-K), were used to explore this, as well as the Finnish study Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) study. In brief, various sleep disturbances, e.g., long sleep duration and excessive daytime napping (>2 hours) were associated with impaired cognitive abilities such as episodic memory, verbal fluency, perceptual speed, and executive functioning. In conclusion, targeting specific sleep behaviors, such as daytime napping in future lifestyle interventions for older adults can counteract cognitive decline.

Photo of Shireen Sindi. Photo: Mariam Kirvalidze

This talk was followed by Amaia Calderón Larrañaga, Karolinska Institutet, who presented results from the project: “Prognostic value of the Health Assessment Tool (HAT): An external validation based on the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in NEAR“. HAT is based on chronic diseases, walking speed, global cognition, and basic and instrumental disability. The purpose of the study was to examine HAT external validity in different population-based cohorts of older adults. To achieve this, the NEAR-based studies: the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (SNAC-K), and two validation studies: the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Skåne (SNAC-S) and Nordanstig (SNAC-N) were used. The HAT’s external validity was acceptable in the two external populations. Overall, HAT can help prevent or delay functional decline and care dependency in the older population.  

Photo of Amaia Calderón Larrañaga. Photo: Mariam Kirvalidze

The symposium resulted in meaningful interactions, creating valuable connections with prospective NEAR users throughout the SWEAH conference. This convergence of ideas and networking opportunities underscores the significance of collaborative efforts in advancing the understanding and utilization of NEAR data within the academic and research community.

Photo: NEAR

On September 20-22, NEAR attended and held a symposium at the European Geriatric Medicine Society (EU-GMS) 2023 in Helsinki, Finland. EU-GMS’s mission is to develop geriatric medicine in Europe as an independent specialty caring for older people with age-related diseases. Around 1700 participants from across the world met in Helsinki to discuss and present research results to improve health and care services for the older population.

The well-attended NEAR symposium entitled: “High-Quality Big Data for Geriatric Research: Experiences from the Swedish National E-infrastructure for Aging Research (NEAR)”, presented infrastructure and research results from ongoing NEAR projects. NEAR’s Scientific Coordinator, Debora Rizzuto, and Scientific Promoter, Davide Liborio Vetrano, chaired the session together.


Photo of Scott Hofer, Davide Vetrano and Debora Rizzuto. Photo: NEAR

Scott Hofer from the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, presented on the importance of high-quality big data from longitudinal population studies in addressing clinical outcomes. This was followed by two presentations on ongoing NEAR projects. One presentation focused on longitudinal profiles of functional limitations in relation to impending death and was presented by Linda Enroth, Tampere University. The other presentation addressed the prognostic value of the health assessment tool (HAT): external validation based on the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in NEAR, and was given by Amaia Calderón Larrañaga, Karolinska Institutet.


Photo of Linda Enroth and Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga. Photo: NEAR

The symposium’s success was evident not only in the depth of the presentations but also in the engaging discussion that followed. Participants, driven by enthusiasm for advancing knowledge, posed numerous questions and provided positive feedback. This collaborative exchange underscores NEAR’s role as a catalyst for ongoing exploration and collaboration. We look forward to building on this momentum and further advancing our understanding of longitudinal population studies and their impact on clinical outcomes.

Photo: NEAR

In the beginning of November, NEAR was on site in Indianapolis when the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) took place. GSA is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging.

Several NEAR representatives were present and held a symposium to present the infrastructure as well as research results from ongoing NEAR projects. NEAR’s Scientific Coordinator Debora Rizzuto chaired the session together with Scott Hofer from Oregon Health & Science University.

– GSA is an important arena for international cooperation and not least an important place to networking. We are therefore very happy that we were given the opportunity to have a symposium to both present NEAR and exemplify results that the infrastructure can contribute to, says Debora Rizzuto.

Three ongoing projects were presented, The new aging: how different aspect of ageing has changed over half century. The H70 study within NEAR by Ingmar Skoog, University of Gothenburg, Functional age trajectories and drug interactions by Deborah Finkel, Jönköping University, and Long-term prediction of dementia using machine learning algorithms by Ana Louiz from Blekinge Institute of Technology.

In addition to NEAR, there were over 4,000 participants, 1,200 symposiums, 700 papers and 1,400 posters.

Photo: Lu Dai

During 6th -7th October, NEAR attended the Collaboration in Science conference in Flemmingsberg.

The conference is an initiative of Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge and aims to strengthen and promote translational research collaborations between basic science and clinical research. During the conference, there were both opportunities to take part in inspiring speakers and interesting presentations, but also a large poster and exhibition area where NEAR was represented with tables and dissemination of information about NEAR.

 

 

 

 

Among the participants were researchers, doctors, students, and administrative staff working with nuclear facilities, and we had many good conversations with interested and potential users.


Photo: Maja Rudolphson

For three days 8-10 June, NEAR attended the 26th edition of Nordic Congress of Gerontology which this year took place in Odense in Denmark. The theme of this year’s congress was CHANGE & CONTINUITY and NEAR participated as one of the sponsors and had an exhibition booth where we presented NEAR and research findings from ongoing NEAR Projects.

       
Photo: Maja Rudolphson

Over 550 people participated during the three days with exchange of research and inspiration from different countries and universities. The conference offered a large number of high-quality abstracts on a great variety of topics. The topics reflects the five pillars of the Nordic Gerontological Federation: biological and medical sciences; health sciences; behavioral and social sciences; humanities and arts; and social research, policy and practice. The well-planned program included 8 keynote speeches, 44 symposiums, more than 100 free oral presentations, 160 posters.


Photo: Maja Rudolphson

NEARs Scientific Coordinator, Debora Rizzuto was one of the speakers at the congress who held a presentation about her research project concerning air pollution and dementia. During the pauses NEAR held booth presentations where three Post Docs from Karolinska Institutet presented their research findings from ongoing NEAR projects.

     
Photo: Maja Rudolphson

Photo: Maria Wahlberg

NEAR consists of 15 databases and four of those belong to the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care (SNAC). This year SNAC is celebrating 20 years, and recently they met at a Jubileum retreat in Stockholm archipelago. Researchers and the data collection staff working with the SNAC met at Djurönäset, Stockholm, during a two-day retreat on 24–25 May 2022.  During the retreat, examples of 20-year-long outstanding research activity were presented. Moreover, researchers and the data collection staff had the unique opportunity to discuss jointly about future challenges and lines of action. We also had the honor to have Mårten Lagergren with us, the promoter of the SNAC project by the beginning of the 2000s. After 20 years, we are well aware that the SNAC study is more relevant than ever, thanks to the relevance, comprehensiveness and long follow-up of the collected data. SNAC has been, is and will be key to answer some of the key priority challenges concerning the health and well-being of older people. During the retreat, NEAR’s Scientific Coordinator, Debora Rizzuto held a presentation about NEAR and talked about findings from NEAR projects.

 

NEAR participated at the Swedish Meeting for Alzheimer Research in Aula Medica, Stockholm. The KI President, Ole Petter Ottersen opened the conference followed by H.M. Queen Silvia. The NEAR Scientific Coordinator, Debora Rizzuto, held a presentation about dementia research within NEAR.

H.M. Queen Silvia and Ole Petter Ottersen. Photo: Ulf Sirborn

Debora Rizzuto. Photo: Ulf Sirborn

Other speakers during the day included the NEAR Board members, Lars Nyberg and Miia Kivipelto, who talked about aging and brain maintenance, as well as dementia prevention.

Lars Nyberg. Photo: Bolin Wu

Miia Kivipelto. Photo: Ulf Sirborn.

NEAR also had a booth where information about NEAR and NEAR-related activities was available. NEAR would like to thank the Center for Alzheimer Research (CAR) for hosting a fantastic and stimulating conference!

 

Debora Rizzuto. Photo: Jing Wu

NEAR Central Operational Group (OG). Photo: Giulia Grande

 

 

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The Database Coordinator of NEAR, Alexander Darin-Mattsson presented NEAR at the 7th annual Big Data Conference at Linnaeus University Centre for Data Intensive Sciences and Applications (DISA) in Växjö, Sweden, 1 December 2021. 

 

NEAR’s Scientific Coordinator Debora Rizzuto and Database Manager Alexander Darin Mattsson participated in “Optimising Multistudy Integrative Research”, a conference held at the Wellcome Genome Center, Cambridge, UK at 18-20 September. Themes ranged from approaches for multistudy analyses, to challenges and solutions related to heterogeneity, data sharing, and measurement harmonization. Researchers from several prominent programmes like IALSA, ATHLOS and IGEMS shared experiences and presented their results.

 

IAGGER              

NEAR was well-represented during the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Region (IAGG-ER) Congress 2019 in Gothenburg.

The NEAR director Laura Fratiglioni had a key stage talk with the title: “NEAR: A common effort for a better future” where she talked about how solutions for a better life in old age can be found in Swedish research.

 

NEAR also held a well-visited symposium with the title: “NEAR – the National E-infrastructure on Aging Research in Sweden: Building on 30 Years of Experience to Prepare for Future Aging Research”

Chair: Laura Fratiglioni, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, Co-chair: Debora Rizzuto, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.

  1. Social Inequalities in old age. Speaker: Carin Lennartsson, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.
  2. Care of elderly people. Speaker: Anders Wimo, Karolinska Institutet.
  3. Gene-Environmental Interplay to Explain Health Heterogeneity: Results from the Swedish Twin Registry. Speaker: Nancy Pedersen, Karolinska Institutet
  4. Redefine dementia diagnosis etiology in epidemiological studies. Speaker: Ingmar Skoog, University of Gothenburg.

         

Many persons also came to visit our booth where information about NEAR and NEAR-related activities could be found.

 

NEAR would like to thank the organizers for hosting a fantastic and stimulating congress and we are looking forward to upcoming IAGG-ER conferences!