Daniel W. Belsky, PhD

Contact information
[email protected]
For current CV, please click here.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Belsky’s research is focused on understanding why socioeconomically disadvantaged populations face shorter healthy lifespans, with the aim of improving intervention strategies to mitigate this health inequality. He is an epidemiologist working at the intersection of genetics, the social and behavioral sciences, and public health. His work brings together discoveries from the cutting edge of genome science with longitudinal data from population-based cohorts and randomized trials to identify mechanisms that cause accelerated health decline in older age.

Belsky’s work builds on evidence that processes of accelerated health decline in aging have their roots much earlier in the life-course. His work focuses on cohorts of children and young and midlife adults as well as older adults to better understand how genetics and environment combine to shape biological processes of aging across the lifespan.

Currently, Belsky is PI of an NIA-funded project to develop a multi-omics databases for the CALERIE Trial (R01AG061378) and MPI of an NIA-funded project to develop a multi-omics database for the Dutch Hunger Winter Family Study (R01AG066887). These projects investigate how caloric restriction affects the pace of biological aging and how in-utero undernutrition contributes to the pathogenesis of aging-related health decline. With support from the Russell Sage Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Belsky is investigating how early-life and life-course social disadvantage influence the pace of biological aging.

Belsky recently developed a novel DNA methylation measure test to quantify the pace of biological aging from a single-time-point blood test in collaboration with the Moffitt-Caspit Lab at Duke University. Code to implement the tool can be found here. The paper is here.

Prior to coming to Columbia, Dr. Belsky was Assistant Professor of Medicine and of Population Health Sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, where he previously completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Dr. Belsky earned his BA from Swarthmore College and his PhD from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.


Education & Training: 

PhD, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 

BA, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA  



Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia Aging Center 

Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology 


Honors and Awards: 

Young Scholar, Jacobs Foundation, 2018 

Early Career Fellowship, Jacobs Foundation, 2016 

Butler Williams Scholar, National Institute on Aging, 2014   


Selected Publications: 

Belsky DW, Caspi A, Corcoran DL, Sugden K, Poulton R, Arseneault L, Baccarelli A, Chamarti K, Gao X, Hannon E, Harrington HL, Houts R, Kothari M, Kwon D, Mill J, Schwartz J, Vokonas P, Wang C, Williams B, Moffitt TE. DunedinPACE: A DNA methylation biomarker of the Pace of Aging. eLife, 11:e73420, 2022.

Graf GH, Zhang Y, Domingue B, Harris KM, Kothari M, Kwon D, Muennig PA, Belsky DW. Social mobility and biological aging among older adults in the United States. PNAS Nexus, pgac029. Published online March 29, 2022.

Graf GH, Crowe CL, Kothari M, Kwon D, Manly JJ, Turney IC, Valeri L, Belsky DW. Testing Black-White disparities in biological aging in older adults in the United States: Analysis of DNA methylation and blood chemistry methods. American Journal of Epidemiology. Published online December 1, 2021.

Kwon D, Belsky DW. A toolkit for quantification of biological age from blood-chemistry and organ-function-test data: BioAge. Geroscience, 43:2795-2808.

Snyder-Mackler N, Burger JR, Gaydosh L, ... Belsky DW, et al. Social determinants of health and survival in humans and other animals. Science. 2020;368(6493):eaax9553. doi:10.1126/science.aax9553

Belsky D.W., Caspi A., Arseneault L., Baccarelli A., Corcoran D.L., Gao X., Hannon E., Harrington H.L., Rasmussen L.J.H., Jouts R., Huffman K., Kraus W.E., Kwon D., Mill J., Pieper C.F., Prinz J.A., Pouton R., Schwartz J,. Sugden K., Vokonas P., Williams B.S., Moffitt T.E. (2020).  Quantification of the pace of biological aging in humans through a blood test, The DunedinPoAm DNA methylation algorithm. eLife 2020;9:e54870 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.54870 (published online May 5, 2020). 

Belsky D.W., Moffitt T.E., Cohen A.A., Corcoran D.L., Levine M.E., Prinz J., Schaefer J., Sugden K., Williams B., Poulton R., Caspi A. (2018). Telomere, epigenetic clock, and biomarker-composite quantifications of biological aging: Do they measure the same thing? American Journal of Epidemiology, 187(6):1220-1230, 2018 (published online November 2017). 

Belsky D.W., Caspi A., Kraus W., Cohen H.J., Ramrakha S., Poulton R., Moffitt T.E. (2017). Impact of early personal-history characteristics on the Pace of Aging: Implications for clinical trials of therapies to slow aging and extend healthspan. Aging Cell, 16(4):644-651. PMC5506399. 

Belsky D.W., Huffman K., Pieper C., Shalev I., Kraus W. (2017). Change in the Rate of Biological Aging in Response to Caloric Restriction: CALERIE Biobank Analysis. Journals of Gerontology A: Biological Sciences, 12;73(1):4-10. 

Belsky D.W., Caspi A., Houts R., Corcoran D., Cohen H.J., Danese A., Harrington H.L., Israel S., Levine M., Schaefer J., Sugden K., Williams B., Yashin A.I., Poulton R., Moffitt T.E. (2015). Quantification of biological aging in young adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Plus) USA. 112(30):E4104-4110. 

Belsky D.W., Caspi A., Israel S., Blumenthal J.A., Poulton R., Moffitt T.E. (2015). Cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function at midlife: Neuroprotection or neuroselection? Annals of Neurology, 77(4):607-617. 

Belsky D.W., Caspi A., Goldman-Mellor S., Meier M.H., Poulton R., Moffitt T.E. (2013). Is obesity associated with a decline in intelligence quotient during the first half of the life course? American Journal of Epidemiology, 178:1461-1468.  Belsky D.W., Moffitt T.E., Caspi A. (2013).

Genetics in population health science: Strategies and opportunities. American Journal of Public Health, 103:S73-S83.