Newswise — Leaders of the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), a national non-profit organization that has devoted more than $150 million to fund over 3,000 aging researchers during the last 31 years, commented recently on Google’s announcement of the formation of “Calico,” a company focused on aging research.
“We applaud Google’s announcement, and welcome them to this critically-needed field of science,” said Stephanie Lederman, EdM, Executive Director of AFAR. “There are many exciting developments in the biology of healthy aging, and we look forward to Google’s contributions.”
With its significant investment, AFAR has played a leading role in advancing healthy aging through biomedical research. Founded in 1981, AFAR has championed the cause and supported the funding of science in healthier aging and age-related medicine. AFAR funds physicians and scientists probing the fundamental mechanisms of aging, as well as specific diseases associated with aging populations at critical points throughout their careers.
“Because we have made major advances in the scientific study of aging in recent years, we are at a great new frontier,” said Ms. Lederman. “Yet, there is still so much to be learned about healthy aging, or healthspan. Our job is to be an ‘incubator of talent’ at the leading edge of discovery in the biology of aging.”
Researchers are looking at the biology of aging from many different angles. For example, Nir Barzilai, MD, an AFAR board member and Professor of Medicine and Genetics and Director of the Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging and the Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, has looked into proteins (peptides) derived from mitochondria, the cells’ energy converters. Based on this research, a biotechnology company is now developing peptides that may some day be able to delay the aging process. Other discoveries are now – or will soon be – in clinical trials.
Dr. Barzilai believes it is necessary to look at aging from different perspectives, in order to “get to the same place.” In one landmark study, he looked at 100-year-olds, and asked, “what is unique about them?” His investigations led him to two genes that these individuals had in common. Two cardiovascular drugs are now in clinical trials that target these genes.
AFAR’s research on the biology of aging spans multiple areas and scientific disciplines, from stem cells to caloric restriction. Among the many leading researchers funded are Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Science at Stanford University School of Medicine and Deputy Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, and James L. Kirkland, MD, PhD, Professor and General Internal Medicine Researcher at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Rando’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of muscle stem cells, as well as aging and stem cell functionality. Dr. Kirkland studies the impact of age and fat deposit origin on adipose tissue (a type of body fat) function. To see a complete list of grantees, go to: http://www.afar.org/research/grantees/.
About AFARAFAR focuses its activities in four primary areas: identifying and funding a broad range of cutting-edge research most likely to increase knowledge about healthy aging; attracting more physicians to specialize in geriatric medicine to meet the demands of an aging population with expert health care; creating opportunities for scientists and clinicians to share knowledge and exchange ideas to drive innovation in aging research; providing information to the public on new medical findings that can help people live longer lives, less susceptible to disease and disability. To learn more, please visit www.AFAR.org. Journalists may arrange to interview an AFAR expert by contacting Ashby Andrews, [email protected], (212) 703-9977.