Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit and Institute of Healthy Ageing (IHA), University College London – Written evidence (INQ0007)


Compiled by Professor Nishi Chaturvedi, Professor David Gems and Professor Linda Partridge


Scientific basis

1. How complete is the scientific understanding of the biological processes of ageing and their epidemiologies (including the relative roles of genetics, epigenetics, lifestyle, environment, etc.)?


2. How firm is the scientific basis for public health advice about healthy lifestyles as a way to increase health span, including physical health and mental health?


a. What are the practical impediments for this advice being acted on?


b. Are there examples of good practice in the UK/devolved nations, or elsewhere?


3. Which developments in biomedical science are anticipated in the coming years, in time to contribute to the Government’s aim of five more years of healthy and independent life by 2035?

Research areas may include:


4. How complete is the understanding of behavioural determinants and social determinants of health in old age, and of demographic differences?



5. What technologies will be needed to facilitate treatments for ageing and ageing-related diseases, and what is their current state of readiness?

For example:


6. What technologies will be needed to help people to live independently for longer, with better health and wellbeing? What is the current state of readiness of these technologies, and what should be done to help older people to engage with them?

For example:


7. How can technology be used to improve mental health and reduce loneliness for older people?


8. What are the barriers to the development and implementation of these various technologies (considered in questions 5-7)?

a. What is needed to help overcome these barriers?


b. To what extent do socio-economic factors affect access to, and acceptance of, scientific advice and use of technology by older people and those who care for them?


Industrial strategy

9. What opportunities are there for industry in the development of new technologies to help increase health span? In which areas of medical research and technology development does the UK excel?


10. What more is required for the UK to benefit from commercialisation of its discoveries and inventions relating to healthy ageing, as envisioned by the Government’s Industrial Strategy?


Healthier ageing

11. How feasible is the Government’s aim to provide five more years of health and independence in old age by 2035?

a. What strategies will be needed to achieve the Government’s aim?

b. What policies would be required, and what are their potential costs and benefits?

c. Which organisations need to be involved?

d. Who should lead the work?


12. To what extent are inequalities in healthy ageing, as well as differences in acceptance of technologies, a barrier to achieving the aims of the Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge?

a. To what extent could achieving the Government’s aim of five more years of healthy and independent life exacerbate, or reduce, these inequalities?


13. What would be the implications of a paradigm shift to people leading healthier lives for longer, and spending less time suffering ill health?

For example:


20 August 2019