UBToday Online Alumni Magazine - Winter 1998
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Georgia Burnette
Mark Cohen
Milton Rogovin
Olenka Bodnarskyj

Georgia Burnette
Participation in study brings benefits

Georgia M. Burnette, M.S. '81 & B.S. '55, has been participating for six years in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), one of the first comprehensive investigations of healthy people from middle to later life and one of the most influential long-term medical studies in the world.

Georgia Burnette enjoys a stroll through the mall.

(Click to view larger image)
Photo: Frank Cesario

Established in 1958 by National Institutes of Health gerontologist Nathan Shock and physician and retired medical missionary William Peter, BLSA has followed the same people over time – some participants have been enrolled for as long as 25 years – recording such information as blood pressure, lung capacity and cholesterol levels. Study subjects travel to Baltimore at their own expense once every two years and stay for two and a half days at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where they undergo top-notch medical work. "It's not your typical physical," Burnette said. "Most people don't routinely have a thallium scan, or Dopplers of the carotid arteries."

Because of the testing, Burnette, 68, who is retired as director of nursing at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, learned that she had extremely high cholesterol and slightly elevated blood sugar. She took up mall walking, and now reports that her cholesterol has been lowered by half.

For Burnette, who with her husband, Luther, B.S. '53, plans to stay in the BLSA study until death, the benefits of participation are mostly altruistic. "You know it's a world-class study and you want to do your best." Then she adds, "This study is the best second opinion you'll ever get."

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