About ORCLS

The main study carried out by ORCLS, the Okinawa Centenarian Study (OCS), is a population-based study of hundred-year-olds (centenarians) and other elderly in Okinawa, Japan.

Sources: Human Mortality Database 2017; Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare 2017

Sources: Human Mortality Database 2017; Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare 2017

Established in 1975, the OCS is the longest, continuously running study of centenarians in the world. These studies have reviewed the diets, exercise habits, genetics, psychological and spiritual practices, and social and behavioral patterns among the oldest-old and count more than 3,000 participants.

Today, Okinawa is known as a region with one of the world’s longest life expectancies and highest number of centenarians per 100,000 population, resulting in its designation as a “Blue Zone.”


History

The OCS Research Team, 1994

The OCS Research Team, 1994

The OCS began in 1975, after the Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed initial reports of outstanding health and long life in Okinawa through validation of birth certificates and other statistical data. The OCS was established by Dr. Makoto Suzuki shortly after his arrival in Okinawa prefecture to establish a Department of Community Medicine at the new medical school in University of the Ryukyus.

ORCLS was officially established in 1997 by Dr. Makoto Suzuki, the Principal Investigator of the OCS, to continue research on Okinawan centenarians after Dr. Suzuki's retirement from University of the Ryukyus, Faculty of Medicine, where the OCS was conducted for over twenty years.


Mission

The mission of the ORCLS is to carry out cutting edge research on factors associated with healthy aging and to provide scientific, evidence-based information on health and longevity to the public, as well as to researchers and research institutes around the world for the betterment of the health and lives of all people.

To accomplish this mission, ORCLS has set these goals:

  • Uncover the genetic and environmental (diet, lifestyle, psychological, social) factors responsible for the healthy aging phenomenon in Okinawan elderly

  • Continue to establish scientific databanks on genetics, diets, functional abilities, cognitive health, and other factors for further research on healthy aging

  • Continue to establish biological repositories useful for research on healthy aging

  • Collaborate with other researchers and research institutes to widen understanding and share knowledge

  • Engage in cutting edge translational work to translate the study results into clinically useful interventions for improving the health of older persons

  • Educate geriatric/gerontology students and researchers in the principals of healthy aging

  • Promote healthy aging to governments, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and responsible corporations


Collaboration

ORCLS has worked with numerous academic and research institutions including:

  • University of the Ryukyus, Faculty of Medicine [Okinawa, Japan]

  • Okinawa International University, Department of Human Welfare [Okinawa, Japan]

  • Tomishiro Central Hospital [Okinawa, Japan]

  • Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology [Tokyo, Japan]

  • Harvard University, T. H. Chan School of Public Health [Massachusetts, United States]

  • Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Oregon Health & Science University [Oregon, United States]

  • Pacific Health Research Institute [Hawaii, United States]

  • John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa [Hawaii, United States]

  • 5-COOP (5-Country Oldest Old Project) Study [Denmark, France, Japan, Switzerland, and Sweden]

  • Chample Study, University of the Ryukyus [Okinawa, Japan]

  • KOCOA (Keys to Optimal Cognitive Aging) Study, University of the Ryukyus/Oregon Health & Science University [Okinawa, Japan/Oregon, United States]

  • SONIC (Septuagenarian, Octogenarian, Nonagenarian Investigation with Centenarian) Study, Osaka University [Osaka, Japan]

  • Kuakini HHP (Honolulu Heart Program), Kuakini Medical Center [Hawaii, United States]

  • New England Centenarian Study, Boston University [Massachusetts, United States]

  • Georgia Centenarian Study, University of Georgia [Georgia, United States]

  • Health ABC (Aging and Body Composition) Study, National Institute on Aging, [United States]

  • International Centenarian Consortium (ICC)


Funding

Support has been provided by the

  • Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

  • Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

  • Prefectural Government of Okinawa

  • U.S. National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health

  • Private and foundation-based funding from Amway, Chanel, VHI Healthcare, Beautiful Aging Solutions Pte Ltd