AUG 21, 2013 02:00 PM PDT

The role of protective genes in the exceptional longevity of humans

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  • Director, Institute for Aging Research, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair in Aging Research, Professor, Department of Medicine (Endocrinology), Professor, Department of Genetics, Albert Ein
      Dr. Barzilai is the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging and of the Nathan Shock Center of excellence in biology of aging. He is The Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Aging Research, Professor of Medicine and Molecular Genetics and a member of the Diabetes Research Center, the Divisions of Endocrinology and Geriatrics. Dr. Barzilai's interests focus on several basic mechanisms in the biology of aging, including the biological effects of nutrients on extending life and the genetic determinants of life span. Indeed, he has discovered longevity genes in humans, and is further characterizing the phenotype and genotype of humans with exceptional longevity through an NIH supported Program Project. He received numerous grants, among them ones from the National Institute of Aging (NIA), American Federation of Aging Research, and the Ellison Medical Foundation. Dr. Barzilai has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, reviews and chapters in textbooks. He is an advisor to the National Institutes of Health on several projects and initiatives and study sections (currently on NIA-Biology). He serves on several editorial boards and is a reviewer for numerous other journals. Dr. Barzilai was a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Beeson Fellow for Aging Research, the Senior Ellison Foundation award, the Paul Glenn Foundation award and the NIA- Nathan Shock Award and the recipient of the 2010 Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction in Aging Research Award.


    Aging is the major risk for diseases such as cancer, AD, type 2 Diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. We hypothesize that a progress in preventing these diseases will occur only if we can understand the reason people age at different rates, and develop strategy to delay aging. Certainly the environment plays a major role in our aging, and environmental intervention, such as caloric restriction, can delay aging significantly in many biological models. While we can measure biological changes with aging we cannot assume they are the cause. In fact the challenge is to determine which changes may be the cause/s of aging and which are protective mechanisms against the changes that occurs. One approach to understand aging is to study the oldest old people who are relatively healthy. We established such a unique cohort of individuals with exceptional longevity (~600 Ashkenazi Jews ages 95-112) and their offspring (approximate age 70 years) and age- and sex-matched controls without a family history of unusual longevity. This matched group of offspring of exceptional longevity-proband and their controls are a powerful tool for identifying genetically controlled longevity traits.

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