The future of ageing


Published 25/04/2023

Cover ageing report

This report sets out an ethical framework and recommendations for research and innovation related to ageing.

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Our report looks at the role that biomedical research and technological innovation has to play in responding to the needs of an ageing population. We have focused on three broad areas of research and innovation:

  • Research into biological ageing
  • Assistive, monitoring, and communications technologies such as health apps and smart home technologies
  • Data-driven detection and diagnosis of age-related conditions

Developments in these areas offer possible benefits in terms of supporting people to flourish in older age, but they can also raise significant ethical questions about how ageing is perceived, and how older adults are valued in our society.

In our report we identify the values, principles and factors that are most at stake in the context of research that seeks to influence our experience of ageing. We note that research and innovation connected with ageing is often influenced by negative attitudes to ageing, and by assumptions about the attributes and roles of older people in society.

While many people and organisations have a role to play in challenging and changing ageist attitudes within the research and technology sector, a key step in making progress on this would be ensuring that research funding systems promote and encourage these changes.

We believe that much more can be done to ensure research into ageing is conducted ethically, such as promoting inclusivity in research, and directing research and innovation towards addressing inequalities in health and wellbeing in older age.

We propose an ‘ethical framework’ to help everyone involved in conducting research relating to ageing to think through the ethical implications of their work.

We then set out 15 recommendations to policymakers, research funders, researchers, regulators and professional bodies, health care professionals and others involved in shaping research.

Project team


Molly Gray

Project Manager

Molly joined the NCOB in November 2020. As part of our research and policy team, she oversees specific projects related to our work and is currently managing our current project looking at the public views on assisted dying in England.

Prior to this, Molly was a Researcher, Bioethics and Policy at the NCOB. Before joining the team, she worked in both NHS clinical research and academic research in the field of translational breast cancer at Imperial College London.

Dan Steer

Dan Steer

Senior Public Affairs Officer

Dan works on public affairs activities for the Council, raising awareness of our work amongst decision makers. Prior to joining in 2021, Dan worked as the Public Affairs and Policy Officer for UK’s children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives. Dan has a BA in Politics and an MA in Political Communication from the University of Sheffield.


Sarah Walker-Robson

Senior Communications Manager

Sarah leads our communications activities across all workstreams, aiming to build our public profile and raise awareness of our work and our impact amongst our key audiences.

Sarah has worked in a number of communications roles at the NCOB since joining us in 2008. Prior to that, she worked in development at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, gaining experience in charity fundraising, partnerships and communications.


Orla Anandarajah

Digital Communications Officer

Orla joined the NCOB in October 2022. As part of our communications team, she oversees our digital channels, including our website, social media platforms and monthly newsletter. Her efforts help to raises awareness and promote discussion of our work amongst a range of key audiences.

Prior to joining us, Orla was the PR and Communications Assistant for The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, working across their NHS, Charity, and Private Care PR activities.