The world is aging at an unprecedented rate and we are not prepared. By 2050 nearly 1.6 billion people will be over the age 65, creating widespread public health challenges. This aging of populations will dramatically increase the burden of non-communicable diseases and enhance our vulnerability to infectious disease threats driven by migration, antimicrobial resistance and climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted these challenges, as aging populations with co-morbidities face the greatest threat of severe disease.
The human immune system holds the key to improving human health, and within this single system lies an immense capacity to fight disease. Technological innovations are now allowing us to reimagine and reshape the future of public health by understanding and harnessing the immune system in new ways.
Taking on one of the great challenges in public health, the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and the Human Vaccines Project are joining forces in the Human Immunomics Initiative (HII). The Initiative seeks to extend healthy life spans by determining the rules of human immunity central to protecting, treating and diagnosing disease in aging global populations.