Mission of the Butler Columbia Aging Center

Based at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, this university-wide Center’s mission is interdisciplinary research and education to advance the goal of increasing healthy lifespan and wellbeing for all.

We work to understand challenges to health across the life course and to discover factors that create health and function at every age and build health futures into the oldest ages. We promote successful aging for individuals and societies through research translation, education, and policy advocacy. Our 21st century approach prioritizes the human values and moral responsibilities at the core of aging societies and makes healthy aging a shared project for families, communities, nations and global societies.

Through the lenses of biological aging, societal aging, and global aging, the Butler Columbia Aging Center’s interdisciplinary research and rigorous education enhances understanding of how individuals age across their lives, and how to optimize health and wellbeing in older age. We collaborate with researchers and students across the Columbia Mailman School and across Columbia University, and engage in partnerships more broadly. We lead science to extend and improve health span, compress morbidity, and resolve disparities, including prevention of chronic diseases, frailty, cognitive decline and disability, and addressing emerging public health challenges such as loneliness. We train undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students, as well as professionals, to develop a next generation of leaders who can combat ageism, and innovate, as well as break down scientific and social barriers, to create healthy aging societies. We collaborate with public health scientists, educators and systems to transform to life long prevention that enables people to arrive at old age healthy and stay healthy. We translate science into practice, systems, and policy solutions to enable communities to benefit from the unique social capital assets of older adults.

Through these efforts, the Butler Columbia Aging Center seeks to bring about a Third Demographic Dividend: a new stage of societal development in which all ages and society broadly can benefit from the opportunities of longer lives. This will require translating scientific evidence into creating healthy longer lives for all, and – with increased health span and through new societal institutions and opportunities - enabling older adults to use their many assets to help solve unmet societal needs through roles with meaning and purpose. Through the transformation of societal institutions that build human capital, including education, the workplace and health systems, making social programs that support a floor of financial security sustainable, and building roles that utilize the contributions of older people towards building a better future, we will enable successfully aging societies. These roles of meaning and purpose will create increased wellbeing for both older people and for the young, and strengthen alignment and support between generations. This will enable successfully aging societies, with core components of equity, cohesion, security, wellbeing, and engagement for older adults and all ages. This combination of the assets and contributions of older adults and transformed health futures and societal institutions can lead to all generations benefiting from longer lives, and all ages thriving. .

A unique feature of the Columbia Aging Center is that it houses the International Longevity Center USA (ILC-USA), and it is the current home of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). The ILC-USA is a member of the global consortium of ILCs devoted to the development of policies, awareness campaigns and interventions at the individual and societal level to best respond to populating aging and support longevity. This consortium known as the ILC Global Alliance reaches into 17 countries around the world.

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Pictured below: Journalists and researchers came together for our recent Age Boom Academy at the the Columbia School of Journalism.

Age Boom Participants 2017