I am a biodemographer interested in familial aspects of health, aging and longevity. Currently I am investigating the socio-environmental and genetic origins of rates of aging in humans and exceptional longevity in families. The purpose of this work is to determine how overall aging may be a key factor in determining the risks of multiple major causes of disease associated with age and to identify genes and gene-environment interactions affecting exceptional human longevity. This area of research also focuses on the associations between life history traits, primarily fertility and longevity. My current work is also focusing on the role of early life events in affecting the life chances and health outcomes of middle aged and older adults. My other key research interests focus on psychosocial and behavioral factors in cancer prevention and control and the effects of family, community, and socioeconomic factors affecting health outcomes, obesity, mortality, and longevity of individuals.
As Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, a Huntsman Cancer Institute Investigator and Director of the Pedigree and Population Resource at the University of Utah, I have conducted health-related research for 30 years. I have served as principal investigator on several past and current NIH grants on aging and cancer.