The importance of diversity and outreach in geroscience research: Insights from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students

Abstract

US academic science lacks racial, ethnic, sex, gender, disability, and socioeconomic diversity. Addressing this problem is essential to drive scientific progress but is confounded by broad misunderstandings regarding diverse groups. Increasing representation in science is particularly relevant in geroscience, where our research to maximize healthy human lifespan must also address existing racial and socioeconomic health disparities. The American Aging Association (AGE) is committed to addressing these issues as part of its larger mission to advance and promote geroscience research. Over the last three years, AGE has sponsored an exhibition booth staffed by trainee leaders to promote our society and research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), an ideal venue to interact with diverse students from across the country. Through our interactions with students, advocates, and representatives from other institutions and societies, we have learned a great deal about how to engage and promote the success of diverse students in the sciences. Here, we share these insights that are helping shape our own outreach efforts. In addition to interacting with ABRCMS attendees, we also learned a great deal about how societies like AGE can partner with other organizations to advance our shared goals and the importance of reaching students early in their academic journey to promote their success. Finally, we consider how to grow our outreach efforts beyond ABRCMS to reach those in disadvantaged areas and support students navigating academic science.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Adachi H, Fujiwara Y, Ishii N. Effects of oxygen on protein carbonyl and aging in Caenorhabditis elegans mutants with long (age-1) and short (mev-1) life spans. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1998;53:B240–4.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Allen-Ramdial S-AA, Campbell AG. Reimagining the pipeline: advancing STEM diversity, persistence, and success. BioScience. 2014;64:612–8.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Asai D. To learn inclusion skills, make it personal. Nature. 2019;565:537.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Asai DJ, Bauerle C. From HHMI: Doubling Down on Diversity. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2016;15:fe6.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Ashpole NM, Logan S, Yabluchanskiy A, Mitschelen MC, Yan H, Farley JA, et al. IGF-1 has sexually dimorphic, pleiotropic, and time-dependent effects on healthspan, pathology, and lifespan. Geroscience. 2017;39:129–45.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Booksh KS, Madsen LD. Academic pipeline for scientists with disabilities. MRS Bull. 2018;43:625–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Campbell LG, Mehtani S, Dozier ME, Rinehart J. Gender-heterogeneous working groups produce higher quality science. PLoS One. 2013;8:e79147.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Center NLHE. Suicide risk and prevention for LGBTQ people, Fenway Institute; 2018.

  9. Charleston L, Adserias RP, Lang NM, Jackson JF. Intersectionality and STEM: the role of race and gender in the academic pursuits of African American women in STEM. J Progress Policy Pract. 2014;2:273–93.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Chaudhari K, Reynolds CD, Yang SH. Metformin and cognition from the perspectives of sex, age, and disease. Geroscience. 2020;42:97–116.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Creevy KE, Austad SN, Hoffman JM, O'Neill DG, Promislow DEL. The companion dog as a model for the longevity dividend. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2016;6:a026633.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Greider CW, Sheltzer JM, Cantalupo NC, Copeland WB, Dasgupta N, Hopkins N, et al. Increasing gender diversity in the STEM research workforce. Science. 2019;366:692–5.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Haas AP, Eliason M, Mays VM, Mathy RM, Cochran SD, D'Augelli AR, et al. Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: review and recommendations. J Homosex. 2011;58:10–51.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hewlett S, Marshall M, Sherbin L. How diversity can drive innovation, in Harvard Business Review. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing; 2013.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Higgs M, Plewnia U, Ploch J. Influence of team composition and task complexity on team performance. Team Perform Manag. 2005;11:227–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hong L, Page SE. Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004;101:16385–9.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Horvath S, Gurven M, Levine ME, Trumble BC, Kaplan H, Allayee H, et al. An epigenetic clock analysis of race/ethnicity, sex, and coronary heart disease. Genome Biol. 2016;17:171.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Ireland DT, Freeman KE, Winston-Proctor CE, DeLaine KD, McDonald Lowe S, Woodson KM. (Un)hidden figures: a synthesis of research examining the intersectional experiences of black women and girls in STEM education. Rev Res Educ. 2018;42:226–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kaeberlein M. How healthy is the healthspan concept? Geroscience. 2018;40:361–4.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kasey PSG, Omolola AA, Gabriela CW. Teachers’ perceptions of rural STEM teaching: implications for rural teacher retention. Rural Educ. 2012;33:9–22.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kerr JQ, Hess DJ, Smith CM, Hadfield MG. Recognizing and reducing barriers to science and math education and STEM careers for native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2018;17:4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Lee MB, Kaeberlein M. Translational geroscience: from invertebrate models to companion animal and human interventions. Transl Med Aging. 2018;2:15–29.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Leiser SF, Fletcher M, Begun A, Kaeberlein M. Life-span extension from hypoxia in Caenorhabditis elegans requires both HIF-1 and DAF-16 and is antagonized by SKN-1. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013;68:1135–44.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Leiser SF, Miller H, Rossner R, Fletcher M, Leonard A, Primitivo M, et al. Cell nonautonomous activation of flavin-containing monooxygenase promotes longevity and health span. Science. 2015;350:1375–8.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Malcom SM, Hall PQ, Brown JW. The double bind: the price of being a minority woman in science. Washington DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science; 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Mazure CM, Jones DP. Twenty years and still counting: including women as participants and studying sex and gender in biomedical research. BMC Womens Health. 2015;15:94.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. McLeod PL, Lobel SA, Cox TH. Ethnic diversity and creativity in small groups. Small Group Res. 1996;27:248–64.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Mehta R, Steinkraus KA, Sutphin GL, Ramos FJ, Shamieh LS, Huh A, et al. Proteasomal regulation of the hypoxic response modulates aging in C. elegans. Science. 2009;324:1196–8.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Michelmore K, Sassler S. Explaining the gender wage gap in STEM: does field sex composition matter? Russell Sage Found J Soc Sci. 2016;2:194–215.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Modan B, Wagener DK. Some epidemiological aspects of stroke: mortality/morbidity trends, age, sex, race, socioeconomic status. Stroke. 1992;23:1230–6.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. NCES, 2012 Improving the measurement of socioeconomic status for the National Assessment of Educational Progress: a Theoretical Foundation, edited by U. D. o. Education.

  32. NCES, 2014 Education longitudinal study of 2002, pp. in Digest of Education Statistics, edited by U. D. o. education, National Center for education statistics.

  33. NSF, 2019a Doctorate recipients from U.S. Universities: 2018, In National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Alexandria, VA.

  34. NSF, 2019b Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering: 2019, in Special Report NSF 19–304. National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Alexandria, VA.

  35. Olshansky SJ, Perry D, Miller RA, Butler RN. In pursuit of the longevity dividend. Scientist. 2006;20:28–36.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Ong M, Wright C, Espinosa L, Orfield G. Inside the double bind: a synthesis of empirical research on undergraduate and graduate women of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Harv Educ Rev. 2011;81:172–209.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Rikke BA, Liao CY, McQueen MB, Nelson JF, Johnson TE. Genetic dissection of dietary restriction in mice supports the metabolic efficiency model of life extension. Exp Gerontol. 2010;45:691–701.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Rosser SV. An overview of women’s health in the U.S. since the mid-1960 s. Hist Technol. 2002;18:355–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Safford MM, Brown TM, Muntner PM, Durant RW, Glasser S, Halanych JH, et al. Association of race and sex with risk of incident acute coronary heart disease events. JAMA. 2012;308:1768–74.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Sawchuk, S., 2017 ‘STEM Deserts’ in the poorest scchools: how can we fix them? in Curriculum Matters, Education Week.

  41. Schleit J, Johnson SC, Bennett CF, Simko M, Trongtham N, Castanza A, et al. Molecular mechanisms underlying genotype-dependent responses to dietary restriction. Aging Cell. 2013;12:1050–61.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Sierra F, Kohanski R. Geroscience and the trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group, GSIG. Geroscience. 2017;39:1–5.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Singh GK, Jemal A. Socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in cancer mortality, incidence, and survival in the United States, 1950–2014: over six decades of changing patterns and widening inequalities. J Environ Public Health 2017;2819372.

  44. Spanakis EK, Golden SH. Race/ethnic difference in diabetes and diabetic complications. Curr Diab Rep. 2013;13:814–23.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Subedi P, Nembrini S, An Q, Zhu Y, Peng H, Yeh F, et al. Telomere length and cancer mortality in American Indians: the strong heart study. Geroscience. 2019;41:351–61.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Torgrimson BN, Minson CT. Sex and gender: what is the difference? J Appl Physiol. 2005;99:785–7.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Valantine HA, Collins FS. National Institutes of Health addresses the science of diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015;112:12240–2.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Williams T, Hagood A. Disability, the silent D in diversity. Libr Trends. 2019;67:487–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Wilson KA, Nelson CS, Beck JN, Brem RB, Kapahi P. Genome-wide analysis reveals distinct genetic mechanisms of diet-dependent lifespan and healthspan in D. melanogaster. bioRxiv. 2018.

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Matt Kaeberlein, Michael Kiflezghi, Arianna Gomez, and Daniel Promislow for the careful and critical review of the manuscript. We thank our partner programs for advertising with AGE at ABRCMS: USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Johns Hopkins Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, University of Washington Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, and The Dog Aging Project. We thank the University of Washington Nathan Shock Center for sponsoring MBL travel to ABRCMS.

Funding

MBL is supported by the NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Training Program (T32 AG052354). DD is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship (AARF-17-533294) and the American Federation for Aging Research Diamond Postdoctoral Fellowship. CMH is supported by the NIH-NIDDK Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA (F32 DK115137).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mitchell B. Lee.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lee, M.B., Datta, D., Hill, C.M. et al. The importance of diversity and outreach in geroscience research: Insights from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. GeroScience 42, 1005–1012 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-020-00191-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • American Aging Association
  • ABRCMS
  • Geroscience
  • Diversity
  • Outreach