Cardiff University Ageing Science and Older People Network (CASciOPe)
CASciOPe is a multi-disciplinary research network, spanning many Academic Schools across the University. It fosters collaboration, dialogue, engagement and innovation, including over the understanding of ageing itself. It acts as a vehicle to facilitate and coordinate cross-school applications to major multi-disciplinary research funders, such as Lifelong Health and Wellbeing.
Our membership is drawn from across the disciplines, including:
- Life Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Health Studies and Nursing
- Dentistry and Optometry
- City & Regional Planning, Psychology
- Arts and Humanities.
The network was formally launched on 30th September 2010, as a part of the University's celebrations of the United Nations International Day of Older People with a reading of a specially commissioned poem by the National Poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke.
The core focus of the network is research on older people, the basic biology of ageing and diseases associated with later life, together with an exploration of their social, cultural and ethical implications. This includes the study and development of novel approaches and technologies that aim to help alleviate some of these conditions, or enhance the health and wellbeing of people as they grow older.
The hope is that fundamental underpinning science will help us better understand the basic biological processes that affect bodies as they age, and that can be exploited to generate practical changes to support older people. This is generating direct translational opportunities within biomedicine to address age-related degenerations and diseases.
Equally, environments and communities, as well as health and social care services, can incorporate understandings of how bodies and persons alter over time, and design ways to help older people that are sensitive to these biological changes. In all areas we seek both preventive as well as remedial measures.
Our philosophy is that although ageing is a process, something that happens to all of us all the time, it does not have an inevitable course. There is much to understand and to be done to help support different kinds of ageing across different groups in society, to support ways of living that offer greater social inclusion and engagement as well as health.
In all this there are complex social, cultural and ethical issues – after all, degeneration, death and mortality are as integral to life as health and longevity. For example, the current science suggests that ageing is the greatest risk factor for many diseases and that 'we all live with a fatal degenerative disease - ageing'. But to what extent is ageing a natural process, and what are the ethical limits to "interfering" in ageing processes? Does viewing age-related conditions as "diseases" that require "cures" risk feeding back into ageist preoccupations in contemporary culture, to reinforce negative attitudes towards ageing and towards being old?
It is this paradox and tension that is at the heart of the network - we want to find ways to venerate ageing and older people, while celebrating how science and medicine can support all of us to have an engaged and participative life as we age.