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Five AFAR experts contribute to special Geroscience feature of JAMA

Sep 18

Five AFAR experts contribute to special Geroscience feature of JAMA View MoreBACK


Five AFAR experts contributed articles to a special feature in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), now available online.

JAMA invited experts in aging research to discuss geroscience, the burgeoning research field that focuses on the genetic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms that make aging a major risk factor for most chronic diseases as we age.

“The fact that JAMA, long one of the most highly influential and respected voices for the medical community, invited five AFAR experts to contribute articles on different aspects of geroscience vividly illustrates how this important and potentially transformative area of research continues to gain momentum,” AFAR Executive Director Stephanie Lederman notes.

Highlighting how geroscience paves the way for therapeutic interventions and extending healthspan at large, the three articles co-authored by five AFAR experts will appear in the October 2, 2018 print edition of JAMA and are now available online:

• “Aging as a Biological Target for Prevention and Therapy,” co-authored by Nir Barzilai, MD, Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD, and Steven Austad, PhD outlines the substantial progress that has been made in targeting the underlying biological processes of aging in experimental animal models, and the potential to “prevent, or at a minimum delay, the onset and progression of multiple chronic diseases and debilities that are typically observed in older adults.” They wrote: “The discovery of cellular and molecular pathways that modulate healthy aging in diverse species across great evolutionary distances offers an unprecedented opportunity for intervention.”

Dr. Barzilai is AFAR’s Deputy Scientific Director as well as a 1997 Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging and 1994 Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grant for Junior Faculty recipient.

Dr. Cuervo is a 2008 Vincent Cristofalo Rising Star Award in Aging Research and 2000 Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grant for Junior Faculty recipient.

Dr. Austad is AFAR’s Scientific Director.


• “Aging, Cell Senescence, and Chronic Disease: Emerging Therapeutic Strategies,” co-authored by James L. Kirkland, MD, PhD recounts the development of senolytic drugs, which target senescent cells that secrete inflammatory substances that exacerbate major chronic diseases. The first senolytics were identified by Kirkland’s team at Mayo in 2015, and are now entering clinical trials. If senolytics are shown to be safe and effective in humans, they could transform care of older adults and patients with multiple chronic diseases that now can only be managed and have not been amenable to disease-modifying interventions. This speculation merits intensive and rapid investigation.”

Dr. Kirkland is AFAR’s President-elect and 2012 Glenn/AFAR Breakthroughs in Gerontology Award recipient.


• “From Lifespan to Healthspan,” by S. Jay Olshansky, PhD celebrates the 30-year increase in expected lifespan achieved in the past century, while arguing that “life extension should no longer be the primary goal of medicine when applied to people over age 65.” Instead, Olshansky wrote, “the principal outcome and most important metric of success should be the extension of healthspan”—the time we live independently in good health as we age.

Dr. Olshansky is an AFAR Board Member and 2016 Irving S. Wright Award winner.


The articles appear in a special “ViewPoint: Scientific Discovery and the Future of Medicine” digital JAMA feature.

Read a related press release here.