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National Research Council (US) Committee on Advances in Collecting and Utilizing Biological Indicators and Genetic Information in Social Science Surveys; Weinstein M, Vaupel JW, Wachter KW, editors. Biosocial Surveys. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2008.

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Biosocial Surveys.

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The Committee on Population was established in 1983 by the National Research Council (NRC), under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, to bring population sciences to bear on issues affecting public policy. A dozen years ago, with sponsorship from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Committee embarked on a series of projects relating to the emerging field of biodemography In 1997, the Committee on Population published Between Zeus and the Salmon: The Biodemography of Longevity, edited by K.W. Wachter and C.E. Finch. This pioneering volume brought together demographers, evolutionary theorists, genetic epidemiologists, anthropologists, and biologists, describing implications of their disciplines for understanding and foreseeing the trajectory of human longevity. With support from the U.S. National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, the Committee went on to explore biodemographic aspects of fertility and family formation in the 2003 volume Offspring: Human Fertility Behavior in Biodemographic Perspective, edited by K.W. Wachter and R.A. Bulatao.

The call in the 1997 volume for more interdisciplinary work contributed to demand for collecting biological data in the context of large, population-based social and demographic surveys. Advances in biodemography would require data with better linkages between social and biological domains. Techniques under development made the collection of biological measurements and samples in nonclinical settings more feasible. With renewed support from the NIA, the Committee on Population held workshops that led in 2001 to the volume, Cells and Surveys: Should Biological Measures Be Included in Social Science Research?, edited by C.E. Finch, J.W. Vaupel, and K. Kinsella.

The volume is a sequel to Cells and Surveys. It takes stock of the rapid advances made in the field since 2001. The volume is based on a workshop that was held at the National Research Council's Keck Center in Washington, D.C., in June 2006. In the forefront is the question, what has been learned so far from the inclusion of biological indicators in social surveys? What changes in perspective are emerging from the interdisciplinary communication associated with the enterprise? What biological and genetic data promise to be most useful? How can better models integrate biological information with social, behavioral, and demographic information?

The chapters of this volume were enriched by free-flowing discussion and debate at the workshop. In response to suggestions, several additional chapters were added after the workshop. We owe a debt of gratitude to the individuals who gave of their time to evaluate and strengthen the contributions, providing authors with candid comments to assist them with revisions. The independent review also seeks to ensure that the volume meets the institutional standards of the National Research Council for objectivity, balance, faithfulness to evidence, and responsiveness to the original charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.

We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review: Dan G. Blazer, Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center; Floyd E. Bloom, Department of Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience (emeritus), The Scripps Research Institute; James R. Carey, Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis; Kaare Christensen, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark; Christopher L. Coe, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin; Caleb E. Finch, Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California; Vicki A. Freedman, Department of Health Systems and Policy, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health; Guang Guo, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina; Judith R. Kidd, Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine; Chris Kuzawa, Department of Anthropology, Laboratory for Human Biology Research, Northwestern University; Margie E. Lachman, Psychology Department, Brandeis University; Partha P. Majumder, Human Genetics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India; Carlos F. Mendes de Leon, Rush Institute for Healthy Aging and the Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago; Robert Millikan, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina; Kathleen A. O'Connor, Department of Anthropology and Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington, Seattle; Jose M. Ordovas, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory, Tufts University; Alberto Palloni, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University; Germán Rodríguez, Office of Population Research, Princeton University; Luis Rosero-Bixby, Centro Americano de Población, University of Costa Rica; Michael L. Rutter, Institute of Psychiatry, Social, Genetic and Development, Psychiatry Centre, London; Carol D. Ryff, Institute on Aging, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin; Nicolas J. Schork, Research and Scripps Genomic Medicine and Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute; Christopher L. Seplaki, Center on Aging and Health and Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Mikhail S. Shchepinov, Office of the President, Retrotope, Inc., Oxford, U.K.; Jean Chen Shih, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, Pharmaceutical Science Center, University of Southern California; Burton H. Singer, Office of Population Research, Princeton University; MaryFran Sowers, Department of Epidemiology, Center for Integrated Approaches to Complex Diseases, University of Michigan; Duncan Thomas, Department of Economics, Duke University; Kenneth W. Wachter, Department of Demography, University of California, Berkeley; and Keith E. Whitfield, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University.

The Committee on Population expresses its warm appreciation to Jim Vaupel, who chaired the planning meetings and workshop and took charge as editor of the volume. Special thanks are also due to the members of the Steering Committee who advised and assisted the chair: Kaare Christensen, Susan Hankinson, Teresa Seeman, Kenneth Wachter, and Kenneth Weiss. Their intellectual contributions can be found throughout this volume. Jennifer Harris at the NIA also provided valuable input and guidance. Committee on Population member Eileen Crimmins, of the Davis School of Gerontology, oversaw the review process.

Particular thanks go to Maxine Weinstein who served as consultant on the project and took responsibility for the broad range of practical and intellectual tasks that have gone into shaping it and bringing it to completion. From identifying and recruiting participants to putting the final touches on the work, her efforts have been indispensable.

Funding from the NIA has made this volume possible. Richard Suzman, director of the NIA for Behavioral and Social Research, has long been a lively supporter of NRC endeavors, relying on the NRC to assemble appropriate scholars and craft reliable, influential reports. His vision has been crucial in launching and developing the field of biodemography. John Haaga, Georgeanne Patmios, and Erica Spotts at the NIA have encouraged and guided us in our biodemographic emphases.

Thanks are also due to the staff of the NRC. Anthony Mann coordinated the logistics and travel arrangements for the meetings and prepared the final manuscript. Christine McShane edited the manuscript. Kirsten Sampson-Snyder coordinated the review of the volume. Development and execution of the project occurred under the guidance of the director of the Committee on Population, Barney Cohen.

Kenneth W. Wachter

Chair, Committee on Population

Barney Cohen

Director, Committee on Population

Copyright © 2008, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK62434


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