Principal Advisor: Professor Ruth Hubbard


Phone: 0400 530 193

Organisational unit: Centre for Health Services Research

The reliability theory conceptualizes ageing as the progressive accumulation of random damage to a complex system composed of redundant parts. As defects accumulate, an organism loses its redundancy until eventually it becomes comparable to a system with elements connected in series.

In this program of work, open-access datasets will be interrogated. These include the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (N ≈ 9000) and the UK Biobank data (N ≈ 500,000). Frailty index (FI) scores will be created for each participant and the behaviour of the FI will be analysed to provide new insights into maximum life expectancy.

We anticipate that (i) FI values will increase with age, consistent with the accumulation of deficits with time (ii) the rate of this deficit accumulation with age will be greater for fitter populations (those with more redundancy/ lowest FI values) and slower for those who were more frail (those with less redundancy/ higher FI values) (iii) the interception of quintiles of Frailty Index values will occur at 110 to 125 years of age.