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University of Wisconsin–Madison

A Novel Longitudinal Study of the Association between the Gut Microbiome and Aging

Recent evidence suggests that microbial communities in human bodies (i.e. human microbiome), particularly those found in the intestine, play an essential role in inflammation and age-related conditions. However, most previous microbiome studies on aging have been characterized by small sample sizes and limited measurements of aging biomarkers/phenotypes. Moreover, there has been limited progress in the ability to analyze longitudinal microbiome data.

This project draws on the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), a study of older adults who have been tracked since birth, and who, now in their late 70s, are beginning to experience rapid changes in aging and inflammatory related chronic disease burden.

The research team will develop and apply novel methods to characterize the variations of gut microbial composition with advancing age and age-related chronic inflammation and associated diseases. Deliverables from this project include a valuable dataset for microbiome research in aging, new methods and new knowledge of microbiome in aging process that will be described through peer-reviewed publications in statistics and medical science, and freely available software packages and tools for analyzing microbiome data.



ZhengZheng Tang, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics


Pamela Herd, Professor of Sociology

Federico Rey, Assistant Professor of Bacteriology


Jun Zhu, Professor of Statistics