• defining appropriate care standards for elderly persons;

  • investigation of the use of age as a criterion for allocation of health services;

  • study of ethics in day-to-day interaction between caregivers and older patients (e.g., autonomy of older patients); and

  • research into the trade-off between quality of care and quality of life for older patients.

Resource Recommendations

Although the NIH National Center for Human Genome Research recently set aside 3 percent of its funds for the study of ethical issues, which could include ethical issues in the care of older persons, the committee knows of no other federal support for research on ethics and geriatric patients, and it strongly encourages funding in this area, following the model of the genome project in association with specific biomedical, clinical, social and behavioral, and health services delivery research projects.


Crosscutting issues bridge the disciplines and call for an interdisciplinary approach to their study. Such issues include gender, ethnic origin, cultural background, ethics, race, and the interdisciplinary approach to training and scientific investigation.

Basic Biomedical Research

Major crosscutting issues here involve the study of the effect of race, gender, ethnic background, and other factors on the trajectory of aging, ranging from the cellular level to the intact organism. This study involves coordinated efforts with other disciplines to provide an integrated approach to multifactorial phenomena. The overarching issue of ethics applies to basic biomedical investigation in raising questions about the care and disposition of experimental animals and the application of new discoveries, such as gene transplants. Finally, interdisciplinary education in the area of gerontology/geriatrics should be supported.

Clinical Research

Clinical research on aging engages many disciplines. Insights from molecular and cell biology provide a basic biomedical foundation for

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