Shanahan, Michael J. (2013). Social Genomics and the Life Course: Opportunities and Challenges for Multilevel Population Research.. Waite, Linda J. & Plewes, Thomas J. (Eds.). Washington: National Academies Press.
The past decade has brought remarkable advances in the integration of social and biological models of health across the life course (see also Gruenewald, this volume). Research is beginning to specify multilevel connections between diverse social experiences—reflecting status, isolation, support, and stressors—and biological pathways, including neuroendocrine processes and intracellular mechanisms involving the genome (Miller, Chen, and Cole, 2009). Moreover, these multilevel complexities are now being studied with reference to life course models (principally, sensitive period, accumulation, and pathway; Shanahan and Hofer, 2011). This chapter focuses on one promising subfield of this larger literature, social genomic studies of genetic transcription, and the opportunities and challenges that it presents for demographers and social epidemiologists who study aging and health. Social genomics was chosen as the focus for this chapter because this subfield attempts to interrelate social settings with gene expression by way of chains of mediating factors, and thus illustrates the promise and challenges of multilevel research in sharp relief.
Panel on New Directions in Social Demography, Social Epidemiology, and the Sociology of Aging
Shanahan, Michael J.