Biosocial Aging and Health Equity

Vision Statement

To achieve health equity across the life course and improve healthy aging by integrating biological and social sciences approaches in research and prevention of age-related declines.


Mission Statement

The mission of the CAC program on Biosocial Aging and Health Equity is to create knowledge that will help inform public health interventions designed to address health inequities across the life course and promote healthy aging. This program supports interdisciplinary collaborations focused on identifying and studying the social and biological processes that impact healthy aging and build health equity. While the program supports research on a range of exposures and health outcomes, current research foci include biological aging, cognitive and physical functioning, health disparities, psychosocial stressors, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and AD related dementias, and infectious diseases. The program faculty members conduct cutting-edge research and provide interdisciplinary research opportunities for students, post-docs, and other trainees. Projects in the program area aim to identify and create novel biomarkers and link these data with social sciences approaches for studying the pathways and mechanisms linking social exposures and health outcomes of interest across the life course.

Located in the CAC, the program on Biosocial Aging and Health Equity draws upon the many institutional strengths at Columbia University and will create synergies, including cross-cutting activities that will bring together work across existing centers and initiatives, including health disparities, aging, genomics, infectious diseases, and data sciences.

The Biosocial Aging and Health Equity program in the CAC has three focal research areas:

  1. Conducting interdisciplinary research across public health, social sciences, clinical research, and biomedical sciences.
  2. Mapping out and determining the biosocial pathways across the life course, emphasizing aging-related health conditions, biological aging, AD/ADRD, infectious diseases.
  3. Collaborating with intervention researchers to inform multi-level approaches for preventing disease and improving health equity.

The Biosocial Aging and Health Equity program will encourage and support the collaboration and harnessing of existing epidemiological or social science data sources and links with biospecimens from large scale longitudinal studies, biospecimen and clinical repositories, and administrative health care databases for testing and adding new biomarker data and utilizing big data approaches to bring together cells to society research efforts. These projects will provide opportunities to expand research across a range of clinical and population studies at Columbia University.


Related Faculty

Allison Aiello, PhD

Dr. Aiello’s research focuses on identifying the processes by which health inequities in aging emerge across the life course, to uncover points of intervention and improve health equity. She has led numerous studies that have examined whether social inequalities alter biological process at the immunological level to impact health. To pursue this research, she and her epidemiology trainees have developed expertise in a wide range of areas, from immunology, genomics, and applied infectious disease research to aging research, social epidemiology, and population health. Her research program focuses on some of today's most pressing and complex conditions, including biological aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, mental health, and susceptibility to infectious diseases.

Dr. Aiello leads the program on Biosocial Aging and Health Equity in the Robert N Butler Columbia Aging Center. This program supports interaction and collaboration across research projects focused on identifying and studying the social and biological processes that impact healthy aging and enhance health equity.

Daniel Belsky, PhD

The Belsky Lab works on health equity geroscience, the application of insights from the biology of aging to understand and eliminate social inequalities in health. Our efforts involve the development and evaluation of novel methods to quantify biological processes of aging and the application of these methods within longitudinal cohort studies and randomized trials to understand modifiable causes of accelerated biological aging in at-risk populations and to identify interventions that can build aging health equity. Lab website at

Belsky is a life-course epidemiologist working in the fields of genetic, genomic, and social epidemiology. He is Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where he teaches Life Course Epidemiology and leads the Certificate in Chronic Disease for the Department of Epidemiology. He serves as co-lead of the Children, Youth, and Families Branch of the Columbia Population Research Center, is a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Child Brain Development Network, a faculty member of the University of Oslo PROMENTA Center in Norway, and a Senior Researcher at the SocioMed Research Nucleus at the Universidad Mayor in Chile. His work is funded by the US National Institute on Aging (R01AG061378 , R01AG066887, and R01AG073402), the Russel Sage and Jacobs Foundations, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He has been an ISI Highly Cited Researcher since 2020.

Within CAC, Belsky leads the Columbia Aging Center Computational Geroscience Core. The Core provides consultation and technical support for the measurement and analysis of cutting-edge biomarkers of aging within clinical trials and observational studies. The Core focuses on composite biomarkers derived from high-dimensional molecular datasets. The goals of the Core are to advance understanding of biological process of aging as modifiable causes of multiple chronic diseases, to elucidate environmental and behavioral factors that affect the pace of aging, and to identify interventions that slow biological processes of aging and extend healthspan.

Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, PhD

The overarching goal of Dr. Zeki Al Hazzouri’s research program is to improve the understanding of how social and cardiovascular factors experienced across the life-course influence cognitive function, Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s related dementias (AD/ADRD). An important theme of her work also focuses on causal inference methodologies that address challenges in ADRD research including, inverse probability weighting, trial emulation, and regression discontinuity designs. Her work leverages innovative methods such as pooling, cross-walking and harmonization of existing epidemiological cohorts to address lifecourse ADRD research questions.



Key Citations

Stebbins RC, Edwards JK, Plassman BL, Yang YC, Noppert GA, Haan M, Aiello AE (2021) Immune function, cortisol, and cognitive decline & dementia in an aging Latino population. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Nov;133:105414. Epub 2021 Sep 15. PMID: 34563836
Martin CL, Ward-Caviness CK, Dhingra R, Zikry TM, Galea S, Wildman DE, Koenen KC, Uddin M, Aiello AE (2021) Neighborhood environment, social cohesion, and epigenetic aging. Aging. 2021 Mar 14;13. doi: 10.18632/aging.202814. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33714950
Noppert GA, Stebbins RC, Dowd JB, Hummer RA, Aiello AE (2020) Life Course Socioeconomic Disadvantage and the Aging Immune System: Findings from the Health and Retirement Study. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2020 Sep 3:gbaa144. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa144. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32880643
Roberts ET, Haan MN, Dowd JB, Aiello AE (2010) Cytomegalovirus antibody levels, inflammation and mortality among elderly Latinos over 9 years of follow-up. American Journal of Epidemiology.172(4):363-71. PMID: 20660122, PMCID: PMC2950794. [*For invited editorial commentary see PMID: 20660122]

Belsky DW, Caspi A, Corcoran DL, Sugden K, Poulton R, Arseneault L, Baccarelli A, Chamarti K, Gao X, Hannon E, Harrington HL, Houts R, Kothari M, Kwon D, Mill J, Schwartz J, Vokonas P, Wang C, Williams B, Moffitt TE. DunedinPACE: A DNA methylation biomarker of the Pace of Aging. eLife, 11:e73420, 2022. PMC7282814
Graf GH, Crowe CL, Kothari M, Kwon D, Manly JJ, Turney IC, Valeri L, Belsky DW. Testing Black-White disparities in biological aging in older adults in the United States: Analysis of DNA methylation and blood chemistry methods. American Journal of Epidemiology, 191(4):613-25, 2021. PMC9077113
Belsky DW, Moffitt TE, Cohen AA, Corcoran DL, Levine ME, Prinz J, Schaefer J, Sugden K, Williams B, Poulton R, Caspi A. Telomere, epigenetic clock, and biomarker-composite quantifications of biological aging: Do they measure the same thing? American Journal of Epidemiology, 187(6):1220-1230, 2018 (published online November 2017). PMC6248475
Belsky DW, Caspi A, Houts R, Corcoran D, Cohen HJ, Danese A, Harrington HL, Israel S, Levine M, Schaefer J, Sugden K, Williams B, Yashin AI, Poulton R, Moffitt TE. Quantification of biological aging in young adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Plus) USA. 112(30):E4104-4110, 2015. PMC4522793

Zeki Al Hazzouri
Zeki Al Hazzouri A, Elbejjani M, Chahine M A, Sadana R, Sibai A M. Late-life learning and health: Challenges, opportunities, and future directions. The Lancet Healthy Longevity, 2(10): e613-e614; 2021. PMC8483348.
Zeki Al Hazzouri A, Vittinghoff E, Hoang T, Golden SH, Fitzpatrick AL, Zhang A, Grasset L, Yaffe K. Body Mass Index in Early Adulthood and Dementia in Late Life: Findings from a pooled cohort. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 17(11): 1798-1807; 2021. PMC8809510
Zeki Al Hazzouri A, Zhang L, Murchland AR, Grasset L, Torres JM, Jones RN, Wong R, M. Glymour. Quantifying lifecourse drivers of international migration: A cross-national analysis of Mexico and the US. Epidemiology 32(1): 50-60; 2021.
Caunca MR, Odden MC, M. Glymour, Elfassy T, Kershaw KN, Sidney S, Yaffe K, Launer L, Zeki Al Hazzouri A. Racial Residential Segregation Throughout Young Adulthood and Cognitive Performance in Middle Age: the CARDIA Study. JAMA Neurology 77(8): 1000-1007; 2020. PMC 7199173.