14th Annual IGSS Conference • October 20-21, 2023

Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences 2023

Epigenetic aging as a mediator of racial and ethnic inequalities in mortality: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2002 mortality follow up study

Nicole Gladish, Stanford University

Presentation slides

Racial and ethnic disparities in mortality are substantial in the United States. People who are Non-Hispanic Black carry a disproportionately large burden for morbidity and mortality. Multiple environmental and social factors have been identified as contributing factors to these disparities, yet the molecular mechanisms of these pathways are not well understood. Epigenetics, the molecular system which integrates environmental information into responsive genetic expression, has been hypothesized to act as a mediator between these factors, such as racial differences, and mortality. Changes in DNAm, especially DNAm predictors of age, have been associated with a plethora of environmental and social factors impacting many health outcomes making it a promising candidate to act as a mediator along the pathway from environment to disease. Several of the most utilized epigenetic clocks will be measured from a subset of 2,367 individuals aged 50-84 from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1992-2002). Mediation by several epigenetic clocks were assessed in the context of racial differences in mortality among those who are African American and Non-Hispanic White. Beyond all-cause mortality, competing risk analyses was performed to uncover any trends related to the type of cause.

Presenter's website


Gladish N, Stanford University
Shen H, Stanford University
Liu Y, Duke University
Lohman K, Duke University
Needham BL, Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care
Rehkopf DH, Stanford University