The Birmingham 1000 Elders Group was formed in the early 1980s by Professor Bernard Isaacs, a Professor of Geriatric Medicine. Professor Isaacs recognised the importance of involving local people in research activity at the University of Birmingham and also realised that having a local group of people who would be willing to help with research that was relevant to older people was a valuable resource. Through adverts in the local media and talks to local community groups, healthy adults over the age of 65 were recruited to be members of the group. At its peak the group had over 3000 members.
Initially the Birmingham 1000 Elders were involved in research that used questionnaires to find out about all aspects of life as an older adult in the UK, looking at issues such as health, housing, social activity, pensions etc. More recently this has expanded to include involvement in medical research including research into heart disease, infections in old age and falls. The involvement of the group has been crucial to the research activity of Birmingham University and in particular to the work carried out relating to older adults.
Maintenance of the Birmingham 1000 Elders database is currently undertaken by Professor Janet Lord. Janet is a Professor of Immune Cell Biology and is director of the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, both located within the new Queen Elizabeth super Hospital.