The April 2016 Healthspan Campaign newsletter is now available! Get the latest on news from the Disease Drivers in Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience Summit, a new healthspan infographic, and more! Get the April 2016 newsletter here.
The Disease Drivers in Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience Summit brought together the nation’s top science experts, as well as various associated stakeholders, to the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City on April 13 and 14 for presentations and discussions about advances in the field of geroscience.
In October 2013, the Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Healthspan and Chronic Disease summit provided an introduction to the field of geroscience, which explores the common connections between aging and disease. Discussions from the conference produced a consensus on the seven “pillars of aging:” adaption to stress, epigenetics, inflammation, macromolecular damage, metabolism, proteostasis, and stem cells and regeneration. Through study of these processes, experts hope to find ways to slow down aging and thus reduce the risk for all chronic diseases.
According to Felipe Sierra, Ph.D., director, Division of Aging Biology at the National Institute on Aging, “When we had the 2013 summit, it was a quite a success. People were energized.”
For this edition of the Healthspan Campaign Expert Q & A, we talk with Steven N. Austad, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Biology, and scientific director for the American Federation for Aging Research, about his world travels, his work in the lab, and his participation in this month’s National Geographic Channel special on aging.
When the Buck Institute for Research on Aging opened in 1999 in Novato, Calif.,
“biogerontology” was a little-known subset of of gerontology. It looked completely different than it does today.
“At the time the Buck started, there was nothing like it,” says Brian Kennedy, Ph.D., its president & CEO. “It was a difficult battle trying to get aging research noticed.”
But then aging researchers at the Buck and elsewhere began to solve the mysteries of why our bodies age.
“It used to be that aging was considered a fixed process. But then in the mid-90s we started finding genetic mutations that extended lifespan,” says Kennedy. “That was an important step. It was possible to modify aging.”
Over the next 20 years, more discoveries were made, spurred in large part by the sequencing of the human genome in 2003.
Fast forward to 2015. Biogerontology has morphed into geroscience – a discipline that has moved into the mainstream of science and is even mentioned on Capitol Hill. Researchers working in the trenches have begun to figure out why our bodies get older. And they are really focused on aging as the common cause of a panoply of chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, among others.
The journal Cell published an article entitled “Geroscience: Linking Aging to Chronic Disease.” It was authored by some of the leading lights in the field of geroscience, including experts from the Healthspan Campaign’s Buck Institute for Research on Aging. The article outlines the recent developments in the field of aging research and explains how experts are finding that aging is the prevalent risk factor for most diseases that limit healthy years of life. Spurred on by this research, the National Institutes of Health launched the Trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group in 2013. Noting that the elderly population is dramatically increasing, the article’s authors said more attention needs to be placed on aging research and extending human healthspan. To read the article, please go here.
From October 30-31, 2013 the NIH Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG) will hold a summit titled Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Healthspan and Chronic Disease at the Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus. The summit is being developed by the GSIG in partnership with the Alliance for Aging Research and The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).
The summit will bring together scientific experts in the fields of aging biology and chronic disease from NIH Institutes and Centers, as well as leading academic institutions, to examine how aging itself contributes to disease and how advanced knowledge and successful translation of research has the potential to delay the main processes of aging and subsequently the onset of chronic diseases common in older individuals. The summit will also include a session on opportunities for additional trans-NIH collaboration. Hill staff, agency officials, representatives of national aging and disease advocacy organizations, and young investigators are encouraged to attend.
The Summit program was developed by the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The GSIG, a recently formed group focused on the relationships between aging and age-related disease and disability, is now among the largest trans-NIH interest groups.
Participation in this event is free, but for organizational purposes, pre-registration is required. In order to pre-register, please visit www.geron.org/gerosciencesummittoday. We hope you will be able to attend this important meeting. Please register no later than September 5, 2013, to confirm your attendance at the Summit.