Healthy Ageing across the Life Course

This collaborative research programme will help improve the lives of older people through better understanding of how healthy ageing is affected by social, psychological and biological factors acting across the whole of a person’s life.


Investigate how ageing is influenced by social, psychological and biological factors across the whole life course

Understand how the meaning and experience of ageing are changing

Encourage innovative interdisciplinary research groups to study ageing

Provide an evidence base for health policy and practice


The HALCyon programme brings together nine UK cohort studies for the first time for comparative research. These cohort studies follow-up a group of people to gather repeated measures of life experiences and health status. Together they include 30,000 men and women born between 1918 and 1958, and who were aged 50 years and older at the start of the programme.


The HALCyon programme focuses on three aspects of healthy ageing:
1) Physical and cognitive capability - the capacity to undertake the physical and mental tasks of daily living
2) Psychological and social wellbeing - how people feel and how they function
3) Biomarkers of ageing - including cortisol (one of the body's stress hormones), telomere length (the cell's natural clock that tells the body how old it is) and genetic factors

Eight work packages look at how these aspects of ageing inter-relate and change with age, and how they are influenced by different lifetime experiences and circumstances.

Researchers, research users and knowledge sharing

HALCyon researchers are working with representatives of a number of organisations who use research to help improve the lives of older people. This means that our findings and new methods of research are shared as quickly as possible with health care practitioners, policy makers and the general public.


The HALCyon study is funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) research programme, a seven-year initiative of five UK Research Councils: the MRC, ESRC, BBSRC, AHRC and EPSRC.


Programme Outline of aims, structure, history, people and timeline

Cohorts & Data What is a Cohort? Overviews of the cohorts used in this study

Work Packages Descriptions of each of the research projects in the study

About Contact and find us, news, findings, personnel

Professor Diana Kuh introduces the HALCyon study.

Happy birthday card

Being in a cohort

Many study members say they feel special to be a participant in a cohort study and are glad to help the research by providing information on their lives and taking part in assessments and tests.
Read more about being in a cohort