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The 2007 Chicago Biomeasures Workshop

5th Annual Chicago Biomeasures Workshop "Global Trends in Integrated Health and Aging Research: An International Gathering of Population-Based Health and Aging Researchers"

June 14th-15th (Thursday-Friday), 2007

At the Gleacher Center, The University of Chicago

Sponsored by CCBAR, The Chicago Core on Biomarkers in Population-Based Aging Research at the Center on Demography and Economics of Aging, Population Research Center and MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at  The University of Chicago, in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging.

Background and History

Funded by the Behavioral and Social Research Program at the National Institute on Aging, the Core on Biomarkers in Population-Based Aging Research (CCBAR) hosts this annual workshop on issues pertinent to collection and analysis of biomeasures in integrated population-based health and aging research.  In 2006, CCBAR was funded through a cooperative agreement (U13 AG029700-01) to continue this Annual Workshop in collaboration with NIA. The June 2007 meeting marks the 5th Annual Chicago Biomeasures Workshop. 

The workshop blends presentations by leading biomeasures experts with panel discussion and general attendee discussion.  The small size and informal nature of the workshop allow ample opportunity for discussion and networking.  In an effort to draw innovation from outside academe, the workshop also includes a "Translations" series during the luncheon.  Speakers in this series have included an FBI special agent who spoke on the collection of biological data from crime scenes, the first U.S. physician astronaut who discussed the technical and technological challenges of collecting biological data from astronauts in space and the sensitivity of such data, and a White House Office on Science and Technology Policy representative who provided an in-depth look at current biometric technologies and applications.

Goals of the Annual Workshop

To accomplish integrated health and illness research in the population setting, many areas of need exist.  These include development of methodology for analytic integration of biological and social data as well as methods for streamlining collection of data in the population setting. There is also a continual need to remain up to date on rapid advances in clinical and laboratory science regarding the relation of key biomeasures to the behavioral, psychosocial, economic, and health-related variables of interest to population scientists.

Definition of Biomeasure

Biological measures collected in the population setting can include direct measures of physical or physiological characteristics (e.g. hip circumference or blood pressure), functional testing (e.g. cognitive function, balance, grip strength), or collection of specimens that require laboratory processing in order to generate analyzable data.  Such data may also be generated via experiments embedded in population studies (e.g. neuropsychiatric, psychophysiological, or sensory testing).   The term "biomarker" has commonly been used by population researchers to describe "biological or physical measurements collected from individuals through direct contact or physical interaction with survey participants." (Manuel, Flintoff, Glazer 1999).  In clinical parlance, however, "biomarker" implies an indicator of risk or marker of disease progress (e.g. cancer tumor biomarkers are used to track response to chemotherapy).  We therefore use "biomeasure" as a higher-order term that encompasses biomarkers of organic disease, physical condition or function, genetic markers, and biological indicators of aging.  Biomeasures also include measures of the physical environment that influence human biology (e.g. radiation or noise).

Definition of Integration

As population, clinical, and laboratory researchers combine methodologies to expand the study of human health and aging, unique analytic challenges arise.  The Workshop strives to provide a forum that promotes and spotlights exemplary integrated analytic work.  Integrated analyses are those that are rooted in enjoined theoretical perspectives and "combine biological or physical measurements with social variables to explain an outcome" using population-based data (Mahay, York, Lindau 2005).  Such analyses go beyond simple stratification of health status or outcomes by sociodemographic variables or vice versa. 

Past Participants

While growth is one indicator of success, repeat annual attendance from lead researchers demonstrates the ongoing value of the workshop. Diverse attendance from disciplines across the social and biomedical sciences, presents a major, unique draw to the workshop. Every year, we see an increasingly broad range of attendees from across the social sciences (e.g. sociology, anthropology, economics, public policy, political science, demography, psychology) and both clinical and basic science biomedicine (e.g. pediatrics, ob/gyn, internal medicine, geriatrics, otolaryngology, dermatology, infectious disease, cardiology, neuroscience, and epidemiology).

Large or Significant Studies Incorporating Biomeasures

Please visit the CCBAR studies page at http://biomarkers.uchicago.edu/studiescollectingbiomarkers.htm to reference a growing list.

Learn More

Content and discussions at each workshop build on previous workshops' proceedings.  To learn more: