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Augmenting surveys with information about the places sample members have lived can enhance the value of survey data. Restricted enclaves with remote access are valuable for sharing such data, yet barriers to use outside such environments remain because of confidentiality and privacy concerns. The Census Bureau has recently taken steps to create synthetic versions of some of its data products, but the robustness of such data to answer questions not explicitly considered by the synthetic data generation technique has been questioned. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this pilot project will develop and evaluate procedures to create survey data linked with synthetic geographic data designed to address confidential and privacy as well as analytic concerns.

By 2050, nearly 70% of global dementia cases are projected to occur in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There is an urgent need to build up scientific evidence and resources to understand the etiology of cognitive aging outcomes in LMICs. A first step is to understand the measurement properties of various cognitive tests administered in these countries. This pilot project will use new data from five internationally harmonized longitudinal studies of aging using the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP), including three LMICs and two high-income countries. Psychometric methods will be used to equate cognitive test item scores across countries so that cross-national comparisons may proceed.

Adult children often take on central roles in caring for aging parents-especially when a parent develops dementia. How families allocate care among adult children, how this allocation changes over the course of dementia, and implications for the course of the disease remain largely unexplored. Using nearly 20 years of data from the Health and Retirement Study, the proposed pilot project will explore new measures of care allocation among adult children in families in which a parent has dementia.

Epigenetics—the study of gene modifications that do not involve changes to the nucleotide sequence—holds great promise as a potential indicator of molecular change from contextual effects and aging and consequently an early signal of health disparities. Over the last few years aging studies have assayed thousands of genetic samples at great expense. However, despite evidence suggesting sensitivity of epigenetics assays to external stimuli, no research has explored the effects of collection and storage conditions on epigenetic data. This pilot project extends prior work on DNA quality and genomic assay stability to include DNA methylation—the most widely used (and most stable) measure of epigenetics in aging studies.