WASHINGTON, D.C. – In 1960, students of Coleman High School at Pine Bluff became part of Project Talent, a landmark study of 400,000 American teenagers, according to a news release from the agency.


For a new study, participants will be sent a questionnaire and asked to take part in a follow-up study designed to learn how their lives unfolded over the past five decades. Documents were to be sent out this week, according to a Sept. 6 news release.


“In 1960, Project Talent was remarkable for the diversity of its participants, who represented every facet of American life. Members of Coleman High School classes of 1960-1963 who are asked to participate in the 2018 study are strongly encouraged complete the survey and share their experiences with researchers,” according to the release.


Now, Project Talent is launching a 58-year follow-up of participants, focusing on unravelling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the release.


The original study included students from across the country, including 2,818 students from 17 schools in Arkansas.


“Project Talent presented a snapshot of a generation coming of age on the cusp of a new era. It was the most comprehensive study of American high school students ever conducted and included students from all walks of life and every racial and ethnic group,” according to the release.


“Over two full days in the spring of 1960, Project Talent assessed the aptitudes and abilities, hopes and expectations of high school students from 1,353 schools across the country. The goal was to identify the unique strengths and interests of America’s young people and to ensure they were being guided into careers that would make the best use of their talents. Follow-up studies collected information on occupations, family formation, education, and health,” according to the release.


The American Institutes for Research (AIR) originally developed the study, which was funded by the United States Office of Education. The new Alzheimer’s study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.


“Project Talent is the only large-scale, nationally representative study that tracks participants from adolescence to retirement age. It helps us understand how experiences, environments, genetics, and behaviors combine to make us who we are and influence how we age,” according to the release.


“The new follow-up study will have a special focus on memory and cognitive health in an effort to develop evidence-based policies to combat the looming Alzheimer’s crisis. The National Institute on Aging reports that by 2050, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will more than triple, reaching 16 million. The cost of caring for sufferers will exceed $1 trillion annually,” according to the release.


The new study seeks to include the experiences of Project Talent participants who identified in 1960 as belonging to a racial or ethnic mi­nority. Researchers want to understand the health disparities that exist between minority and non-minority groups and to examine the long-term effects of attending racially segregated versus integrated schools.


“These findings will be important in informing current health policy,” Susan Lapham, Project Talent’s director, said. “Segregation in schools has been increasing in recent years but we know little about the potential long-term impact on health in later life.”


“The Project Talent generation has contributed to important research in the past five decades,” Lapham said. “Now, they have the opportunity to help us address some of the most pressing public health concerns currently facing our country.”


Participants can contact Project Talent on 1-866-770-6977 or send an email to projecttalentstudy@air.org. They may also visit the Project Talent website: http://www.projecttalent.org/