Chile-France Forum analyzed big data’s challenges on diseases associated with aging

Chile-France Forum analyzed big data’s challenges on diseases associated with aging

The increasing life expectancy and aging populations are two key challenges shared by Chile and France in dealing with diseases of the elderly. These situations challenge to the health system and the contribution of the centers of excellence. This context was the main topic of the Perspective of Chilean-French Collaboration in Chronic Illness and Ageing: The Case of Brain Disorders Symposium, organized by Center for Mathematical Modeling, Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica, the Geroscience Center for Brain Health and Metabolism (GERO), and the French Embassy in Chile.

During the opening, the president of Universidad de Chile Ennio Vivaldi highlighted the French influence on the Chilean development. The scholar focused his speech in Medicine and Education. He qualified this event as a space for academic collaboration between both countries around the aging subject.

Population Pyramid in Chile today is similar to France. In 1960, the differences were huge. 


“This is an area of the knowledge that marks the degree of humanity or civilization of a society. In this sense, one of the saddest things in many of our countries today is the total disregard for older people. They deserve a good quality life after a very actively life in the productive processes,” he said.

CMM Director Alejandro Maass talks about the tendency to aging in Chile, which is similar to France. “It is an accelerating factor of development to collaborate with scientists who are more advanced in these issues. And Chile is already prepared for many instances, too. There are already five centers of excellence collaborating with researchers from a time. This allows you to sort out ideas better, collaborate internally, and speed up the final products. This is what we expect from these meetings, not only to be stuck in the discussion of ideas.”

The French connection

One of the French researchers who joined in the colloquium was Philippe Robert. The Ph.D. in psychiatry and professor of the University of Nice shared with the audience his work as director of the Nice Memory Center for Care and Research (CMRR), the Nice-Sophia Antipolis Cognition, Behaviour and Technology Unit, and the CoBTeK team (Cognition Behavior Technology) at the University of Côte d’ Azur.

First, he showed his analysis on the symptoms of dementia, the assessment and treatment of apathy, and the use of new technologies for diagnosis and stimulation in older adults. He also presented central elements of his experience as coordinator of the French Alzheimer’s Database. In fact, many questions of the audience referred to the management of large volumes of data.

He explained the focus of his work aims to improve the evaluation, prevention and non-pharmacological treatment of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and other related disorders.

“(In France) we currently have a new specific national plan for this type of disease. This plan considers the use of new technologies as a fundamental non-pharmacological tool. These advances go hand in hand with studies to understand the biological mechanisms of the disease”, he said.

From this experience, he said, “we have had a conversation with Andrea Slachevsky (from GERO) and other colleagues to share some clinical experiments. Besides, we can try to find funding together to get resources for the development of parallel studies.”

The epidemiologist Karine Pérès also was part of the activity. She is part of the Epidemiology and Neuropsychology of Brain Aging Research Team at the University of Bordeaux 2. There, she has developed several research projects aimed at studying changes in functional, cognitive, psychological, and family functioning autonomy associated with chronic illnesses and aging.

Our approach seeks to understand why some people develop Alzheimer’s. This seeks to identify the factors with we can act in prevention, to inform the ministry, and to reduce the risk of developing the disease,” she said.

The researcher highlighted the level of Chilean life expectancy, the second highest in the continent after Canada, and the progressive similarity of the Chilean age pyramid with the French pyramid.

“I believe Chile will face our same problem of fast population aging and this will have concrete implications of a different kind in the future. In this way, she added, “it may be interesting for Chile to see what our difficulties are in dealing with all the diseases related to aging. It is also interesting for French researchers to have new approaches on this subject, such as those they develop here and thus learn from each other,” she said.

Posted on Oct 23, 2017 in Frontpage, News