Researchers at the Boonshoft School of Medicine are leading the charge in understanding what makes people different. Their research is providing physicians with a greater understanding of human growth and development. But it can also provide valuable insights useful to another field of scientific discovery: physical anthropology.
Richard J. Sherwood, Ph.D., director of the Division of Morphological Sciences and Biostatistics of the Lifespan Health Research Center and professor of community health and pediatrics, and Dana Duren, Ph.D., associate professor of community health and orthopaedic surgery, sports medicine and rehabilitation, say that the growth and development data gathered over generations by the Fels Longitudinal Study can provide valuable insights for scientists in the physical anthropology community.
Their research and that of others was published in the January 2013 special issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the official journal of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. The special issue, guest edited by Sherwood and Duren, commemorated the 80th anniversaries of the Fels Longitudinal Study, the longest continuous study of human growth and development in the world, and the founding of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA).
In 2011 a symposium, “Growth of a Species, an Association, a Science: 80 Years of Growth and Development Research,” was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to celebrate the longevity and interrelated nature of the Fels Longitudinal Study and the AAPA. Several of the participants had current or historical connections to the Fels Longitudinal Study, which began in 1929 in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Today, the Fels Longitudinal Study focuses on physical growth, skeletal maturation, craniofacial growth, genetics, longitudinal biostatistical modeling, body composition, risk factors for cardio - vascular disease, and aging of the musculoskeletal system. In 1977, the Fels Research Institute and Fels Longitudinal Study became part of the Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, residing first in the Department of Pediatrics and later within the Department of Community Health in the Lifespan Health Research Center. Participants in the study range from infants to the elderly.