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HALCyon - Healthy Ageing Across the Life Course

halcyon_mascot.jpgThe HALCyon collaborative research programme was originally funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) programme, a joint initiative of five UK Research Councils. The remit of the NDA is to improve the quality of life of older people.

NDA funding for the initial HALCyon programme covered the period 2008 to 2013. In 2013, HALCyon researchers joined forces with researchers on the Integrative Analysis of Longitudinal Studies of Aging (IALSA) network and secured further funding from the US National Institutes of Health.

Structure of the study 

HALCyon brought together an interdisciplinary group of 23 scientists and nine UK cohort studies to understand three aspects of healthy ageing: 

  • Physical and cognitive capability (the capacity to undertake the physical and mental tasks of everyday living)
  • Psychological and social wellbeing (how people feel and how they function in terms of relationships and social activities)
  • Underlying biology of ageing. This includes cortisol (one of the body’s stress hormones), telomere length (the cell’s natural clock that tells the body how old it is) and  genetic factors. 


The HALCyon programme looked at: 

  • Inter-relationships between indicators of capability, wellbeing and biological ageing 
  • How these indicators of healthy ageing and inter-relationships change with age 
  • Common lifetime determinants

Eight inter-related work packages investigate how individual  factors such as early development, lifetime health, personality  and nutrition, and characteristics of areas in which study  members have lived, influence indicators of healthy ageing.  These factors may explain why some older people live fulfilled and active lives and why differences exist between men and  women, or between social groups. Some cohort members have been interviewed to find out how they understand their life  history and experiences and their response to ageing.