TILDA Research Team expands as Dr Patricia Kearney joins Ireland’s first longitudinal study on ageing

Posted on: 25 July 2007

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) is pleased to announce that leading researcher Dr Patricia Kearney has joined the TILDA team, following the awarding of the first ever Paul B. Beeson Fellowship outside of the United States of America.

The TILDA study, which is being led by Trinity College, is a cross-institutional study which will provide a detailed and comprehensive picture of the lives of up to 10,000 people charting their health, social and economic circumstances as they age over at least a 10 year period. The information gathered will be invaluable to policy makers and practitioners in the areas of health, social care, transport and pensions, as well as for the voluntary sector, business and service industries.

Dr Kearney will use data collected by TILDA to determine the prevalence of known cardiovascular risk factors in the ageing Irish population, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, smoking, and lack of physical activity. She will assess the extent to which these factors are clustered together in the population to quantify the burden posed by different risk factors in the population as well as to assess the potential benefits of strategies to prevent and treat such risk factors.
In addition, she will investigate the role of psycho-social factors in cardiovascular disease. While health behaviors account for some of the social gradient in vascular disease risk, many of the causes and underlying mechanisms linking economic and social disadvantage to cardiovascular disease remain unclear.
Dr Kearney’s work has been made possible through the awarding of the Paul B. Beeson Fellowship to her by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the American Federation for Ageing Research (AFAR). This is the first time that the Fellowship has been granted to a researcher outside of the United States of America. It is made to physicians with an interest in ageing to develop high impact research studies on Ageing.
Dr. Kearney is a graduate of UCC and a former Fulbright Scholar. She has a PhD in epidemiology from Tulane University in New Orleans, and until recently worked as a clinical research fellow at the University of Oxford. She will be jointly supervised by Professor RoseAnne Kenny, Chair of Geriatric Medicine in Trinity College Dublin and Professor Ivan Perry, Chair of Epidemiology and Public Health in University College Cork.
Professor Brendan Whelan, Research Director of TILDA said: “Patricia’s studies will be of great value to the understanding of ageing in Ireland and in particular our understanding of the factors impacting on cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Ireland. It is a reflection of the importance of the TILDA study, and of Patricia’s work that the Paul Beeson fellowship has been awarded to assist in the funding of this research.”


The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) is a major initiative to support successful ageing in Ireland. Launched by the Minister for Health in November 2006, it will chart the health, social and economic circumstances of Irish people aged 50 and over. TILDA is an inter-institutional collaboration by Irish academics. Led by Trinity College, the partners include: Dundalk Institute of Technology, the Economic and Social Research Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Cork and University College Dublin.

TILDA will

 provide up to date information which will drive reform of the health and social services;
 lead to new research and discoveries about the factors which enable successful ageing
 contribute to research on new treatments for age related diseases such as dementia, heart disease, stroke and
 help to ensure a comfortable living standard for people in old age
 influence public perceptions on ageing
 contribute to developing best models of care for older citizens

TILDA will utilise a scientifically representative sample of over 10,000 persons who will be followed up every two years. Participation in the study will be voluntary and the highest standards of confidentiality will be applied.

TILDA is being made possible through a €4 million research donation from Irish Life. This is the single largest donation ever made to research by a corporate body in Ireland. The Atlantic Philanthropies have also contributed to the research endeavour.

Dr patricia kearney