Toward Telomere Measurement Precision and Defining Critical Research Questions
Thursday & Friday, March 30-31, 2023

Telomere Research Network Abstract


This two-day hybrid interactive meeting presented the results of the Telomere Research Network focused on the evaluation of telomere length as an indicator of psychosocial stress and a predictor of health and disease relevant for human population studies. Initial presentations provided investigators specific recommendations on methodologic precision from an international, multi-method collaborative initiative. Subsequently, the meeting focused on new research and interactive discussions expected to provide recommendations to the TRN on next critical research gaps in the telomere field and best approaches to enhancing interaction across basic, translational, and clinical research related to telomere dynamics.


The Telomere Research Network is a collaborative project funded through a set of cooperative agreements (U24 and U01’s) by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The primary goals of this international network are to:

  • Enhance collaborative efforts directed at the comparison of existing and novel methods of telomere measurement applicable to population studies by the U01 laboratories and other network affiliate researchers
  • Coordinate the development and dissemination of best practices for telomere measurement and provide resources to the field
  • Invest in innovative pilot projects addressing important gaps in telomere research
  • Support an interdisciplinary network of scientists focused on advancing research on telomeres as sentinels of environmental exposure, psychosocial stress, and disease susceptibility

The initial work of the TRN focused on addressing concerns related to methodologic factors that influence telomere length measurement precision and establishing clear expectations for careful consideration of study design when selecting existing methods for human population studies. Moving forward the TRN expects to serve as a bridge between scientists examining telomere length and dynamics in relation to human population health and those studying basic and translational telomere biology. Through the dissemination of best practices, study design recommendations, and continued transparent dialogue, the TRN expects to perpetuate high impact rigorous repeatable scientific discovery and discourse on the role of telomere dynamics in relation to psychosocial stress, environmental exposures, and human health, disease, and aging.

Meeting Objectives

By the end of the meeting, attendees have:

  • Defined key variables related to methodologic precision in telomere length measures
  • Understood the multiple factors contributing to the need for significant sample sizes and careful monitoring of biologic sources in human population studies of telomere dynamics
  • Have a clear understanding of the goals of the TRN and the existing and future resources available to investigators
  • Appreciate the growing complexity of our understanding of the role of telomeres in human health and disease and the need for continued interactive dialogue across telomere researchers
  • Critically appraised the existing literature related to telomeres as a biomarker of psychosocial and environmental exposure and a predictor of health, disease, and lifespans

Meeting Goals

The TRN annual meeting is expecting to achieve the following goals:

  • Enhanced communication across basic, translational, and clinical researchers seeking to better understand the role of telomeres in cellular, organismal and population studies
  • Provide direct feedback to the TRN on current progress
  • Provide recommendations to the TRN on key research questions and next steps to further the understanding of the ability of telomeres to serve as a biomarker of psychosocial stress and environmental exposure and predictor of human health and disease in human population studies
  • A meeting report outlining the content of the interactive discussions and the future steps of telomere research focused on the role of telomeres in psychosocial stress, environmental exposures and human health and aging

Being a "Participatory" Participant

During the meeting we used Mural, a collaborative digital whiteboard, to capture attendee input. The following two Mural board links were made available to attendees at the launch of the meeting:

  • An Unconference Mural board was used to gather attendee input on topics to be discussed during the Unconference session
  • A Data Management and Sharing Mural board was used to gather attendee input on their preparedness to develop and implement their own data management and sharing plans


For questions about the meeting content, please contact Stacy Drury, M.D., Ph.D. or Michelle L. Heacock, Ph.D.