Support us | Visit us | Contact us
Organised by Professor Linda Partridge DBE FRS, Professor Janet Thornton CBE FRS and Professor Gillian Bates FRS
Research into ageing has been galvanised by the discovery of single-gene mutations that extend healthy lifespan of laboratory animals and that delay multiple, ageing-related diseases. Evolutionary conservation of these genetic effects allows the use of invertebrates to understand human ageing. This meeting will discuss the scientific challenges and the prospects for a broad-spectrum, preventative medicine for age-related disease.
The proceedings of this meeting have now been published in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions B. Audio recordings of the meeting are also available below.
Professor Linda Partridge DBE FRSIntroduction from Professor Linda Partridge DBE FRS
Professor Janet Thornton CBE FRS, European Bioinformatics InstituteBioinformatics and ageing research
Professor Janet Thornton has worked extensively in knowledge-based approaches to sequence analysis and now heads the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, UK. She helped develop many of the tools and approaches which are now used worldwide for analysing protein structures and sequences. Dr Thornton holds professorial appointments at University College, London, and Birkbeck College. She was admitted to the Royal Society in 1999.
Professor Gillian Bates FRS, King's College LondonOrganiser
Dr. Gillian Bates is Professor of Neurogenetics in the Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at King’s College London School of Medicine. Her research interests are focussed on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease (HD) and the development of therapeutic interventions. Her basic science projects include the proteolytic processing of huntingtin; huntingtin aggregation; chaperones, the heat shock response and impairment of protein homeostasis in HD. She uses a combination of pharmacology and genetic manipulation to validate therapeutic targets with a current focus on Hsp90 and HSF1 and the Zn2+ dependent histone deacetylases. She has been elected to the Royal Society (2007), EMBO (2002) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999). Awards include the Royal Society Glaxo-Wellcome Award (with Stephen Davies) (1998).
Mr Stephen Cox CVO, Executive Secretary, Royal Society Welcome by Mr Stephen Cox CVO, Executive Secretary, Royal Society
Professor Cynthia Kenyon, University of California San FranciscoGenes and cells that can extend the lifespan of C. elegans
Professor Brian Kennedy, University of WashingtonEvolutionarily conserved mechanisms of ageing
Brian Kennedy, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. He obtained his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996. It was during his graduate studies with Dr. Leonard Guarente that he initiated studies of the biology of aging, where he identified Sirtuins as key modulators of aging in yeast. One focus of his current lab still centers on Sir2 and yeast aging. After a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, where he studied mechanisms of tumor progression, he began an independent position at the University of Washington and quickly turned his focus back to aging biology. Currently his lab uses a variety of model organisms including yeast, worms and mice to identify the conserved evolutionary pathways that modulate aging. The lab focuses on mutations that extend lifespan including reduced TOR signaling and dietary restriction and mutations associated with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which resembles premature aging. Dr. Kennedy has published over 60 manuscripts in prestigious journals including Cell, Nature, Science, Genes & Development and PNAS. He has presented his work nationally and abroad at over 40 invited seminars over the last 3 years, and his work has been supported by several grants from agencies such and foundations as the NIA, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research and others. He was also recognized as a Searle Scholar from 2003-2006 and a Kavli Fellow in 2009. In 2009, he was named the Vincent Cristofalo Rising Star in Aging Research by the American Federation for Aging Research. Dr. Kennedy has served on the NIH Cellular Mechanisms of Aging and Development study section since 2006, on the grant review committee for American Federation for Aging Research Grants since 2006, as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Science since 2006, and as a consultant for Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies.
Professor Andrzej Bartke, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Single gene mutations and healthy ageing in mammals
Andrzej Bartke is professor of Internal Medicine and Physiology at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, USA. The focus of his research is on the genetic and hormonal control of aging in mammals. Current work is aimed at identifying mechanisms that link reduced growth hormone action with delayed aging and extended longevity. For this work, he is using mutant mice that live longer than normal mice and show various symptoms of delayed aging, including retention of cognitive function and protection from age-related disease.
His career includes work at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and at SIU-Carbondale. He is a past president of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, the American Society of Andrology and the American Aging Association. Dr. Bartke has published more than 500 research papers, review articles and book chapters dealing with reproductive endocrinology, prolactin, growth hormone and aging, and has received numerous awards, in addition to 40 years of continuous NIH funding.
Professor Eline Slagboom, Leiden University Medical CentreGenetics of human longevity
P.Eline Slagboom obtained M.Sci in Biology in 1987 at the Leiden University. In 1993 the Postdoctoral degree in biochemistry was obtained. Title of the thesis was "Genomic Instability and Ageing". In 1995 Slagboom joined the Department of Vascular and Connective Tissues Research at the Gaubius Laboratory, TNO-PG, The Netherlands. As postdoc she initiated a unit for genetic epidemiological studies aimed at the identification of genetic determinants of multifactorial diseases. Slagboom started between 1995 and 1997 a genetic research line on osteoarthritis (OA) including linkage studies in families with early onset OA, genetic association studies in population cohorts and linkage studies in populations of affected sibling-pairs. From 1998 on, Slagboom, in collaboration with research groups at different universities, obtained various grants that allowed initiation of a genotyping facility for genome scanning at TNO. In 2000 Slagboom was appointed as professor of Molecular Epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC).
Focus of the research in the past 10 years is on genomic, epigenetic and biomarker studies of healthy/unhealthy aging and longevity in humans. A diversity of human cohorts with unique study designs is being analysed for this purpose.
Professor Thomas Nyström, Göteborg University Damage segregation and cellular rejuvenation
Thomas Nystrom holds the Professor’s chair in Microbiology at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg. He uses microbial model systems, including E. coli and S. cerevisiae, to approach the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular aging/rejuvenation, trade-offs between maintenance and reproduction, and the development of soma-like and germ-like lineages in unicellular systems. In these contexts, he is particularly interested in the temporal and spatial management of protein damage. Thomas is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science (Class VI), EMBO, Faculty of 1000, and the American Academy of Microbiology.
Professor Stuart Kim, Stanford University Developmental drift and ageing stochasticity in C. elegans
Stuart K. Kim is Professor of Developmental Biology and Genetics at Stanford University. He received his BA degree from Dartmouth College in 1979 with majors in chemistry and philosophy. Stuart then moved to the Biology Department at Caltech, first working with Lee Hood’s group on somatic mutation of antibody genes and Barbara Wold’s group on antisense RNA. Kim graduated in 1984 and spent five years as a post-doctoral fellow with Bob Horvitz at MIT working on the Ras/MAP kinase pathway in C. elegans development. Kim joined the Department of Developmental Biology in 1989 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1996 and full Professor in 2003. Kim’s recent research interests have focused on functional genomics and aging. He has recently used genome-wide analyses to look at the process of aging in both worms and humans. In worms, he found that aging is caused by drift of a transcriptional network, which is different than the conventional view that aging is caused by accumulation of cell and environmental damage. In humans, Kim is searching for genes that can either speed up or slow down aging, in particular with respect to the kidney.. Kim has been a Markey Scholar, a Searle Scholar and an Ellison Scholar for his research on the genetics of aging. He was awarded the Ho-Am prize in medicine in 2004, and the Glenn Award in Aging Research in 2008. He is an editor of PLOS Genetics, on the National Science Advisory Council for the American Federation for Aging Research, on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Buck Institute, Novato, CA.
Professor Tom Kirkwood, Newcastle UniversitySystems biology of ageing and longevity
Tom Kirkwood is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at the University of Newcastle. Educated in biology and mathematics at Cambridge and Oxford, he worked at the National Institute for Medical Research, where he formed and led a new research division, until in 1993 he became Professor of Biological Gerontology at the University of Manchester. His research is focused on the basic science of ageing and on understanding how genes as well as non-genetic factors, such as nutrition, influence longevity and health in old age. He was European President (Biology) of the International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology, chaired the UK Foresight Task Force on ‘Healthcare and Older People’ in 1995, led the project on ‘Mental Capital Through Life’ within the recent Foresight programme on Mental Capital and Well-Being, was Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Science & Technology Select Committee inquiry into ‘Ageing: Scientific Aspects’ and has served on the Councils of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is an Editor of Mechanisms of Ageing and Development and serves on the editorial boards of eight other journals. He has published more than 300 scientific papers and won several international prizes for his research. His books include the award-winning ‘Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Ageing’, ‘Chance, Development and Ageing’ (with Caleb Finch) and ‘The End of Age’ based on his BBC Reith Lectures in 2001. He was awarded the CBE in 2009.
Professor Dominic Withers, Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College LondonMammalian models of extended healthy lifespan
Professor Andrew Dillin, Salk Institute and the Howard Hughes Medical InstituteLifespan-extension and ageing-related disease
Professor Maria A Blasco, Spanish National Cancer Research CentreAgeing as a risk factor for cancer
Maria A. Blasco obtained her PhD in 1993 for research on DNA polymerases at the Centro de Biología Molecular under the supervision of M. Salas. That same year, Blasco joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (USA) as Postdoctoral Fellow under the leadership of C. W. Greider. During this time, Blasco cloned one of the mammalian telomerase genes and generated the first telomerase knockout mouse.
In 1997 she returned to Spain to start her own research group at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Madrid, where she continued her work on the development of mouse models for the study of telomerase in cancer and ageing. Blasco moved to the CNIO in 2003 as Director of the Molecular Oncology Programme and Leader of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group.
Blasco has received the Swiss Bridge Award for Research in Cancer, the Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award, the EMBO Gold Medal, the Fundación Carmen and Severo Ochoa Award for Molecular Biology, the Rey Jaime I Basic Research Award, the Körber European Science Award and the Alberto Sols Award in Biomedical Research. She serves on the Editorial Board of several scientific journals and has been an elected EMBO Member since 2000 and a Member of the Academia Europaea since 2006. Maria belongs to the Faculty 1000 (stem cells and regeneration). She was appointed to EMBO Council in 2008.
Maria A. Blasco has authored more than 130 original papers and made major contributions to the field of telomeres and telomerase and the role they play in ageing, cancer and stem cell biology.
Professor Thomas Rando, Stanford UniversityAgeing and stem cell dysfunction in tissue repair
Professor Nir Barzilai, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University The promise of human genetics in preventing ageing-related disease
Dr. Barzilai is the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 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. He is the Director of the Diabetes Research and Training Center Physiology core.
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 the first longevity gene in humans, and is further characterizing the phenotype and genotype of humans with exceptional longevity through an NIH supported Program Project. He also is leading a Program Project to investigate the metabolic decline with aging and its impact on longevity. 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 160 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. 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 for his contributions in elucidating metabolic and genetic mechanisms of aging, and will receive the 2010 Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction in Aging Research Award. In his capacity as the Director of the Institute for Aging research at Einstein he leads or assist in 5 large programmatic (P01) approaches to biology of aging, a training grant (T32) and has additional individual grants.
Professor William Evans, GlaxoSmithKlineDrug discovery and development for elderly people: opportunities and challenges
William J. Evans, Ph.D. is a Vice President and Head of the Muscle Metabolism Discovery Performance Unit at GSK. He is also a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at the Duke University Medical Center. From 1997 – 2009 he was the Jane and Ed Warmack Chair of Nutritional Longevity and director of the Nutrition, Metabolism, and Exercise Laboratory in the Donald Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. From 1993 to 1997 he was the director of the Noll Physiological Research Center at the Pennsylvania State University and from 1982 to 1993 he served as the Chief of the Human Physiology Laboratory at the U.S.D.A. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. He is the author or co-author of more than 200 publications in scientific journals. Much of his research has examined the functional and metabolic consequences of physical activity and diet in elderly people. He is the author of Biomarkers: The Ten Determinants of Aging You Can Control and AstroFit (Simon & Schuster). His work has been featured on CBS evening news, 20/20, Good Morning America, the New York Times, PBS’s Infinite Voyage and NOVA and a variety of media outlets. In 2005, he was invited to testify before the Senate Special Committee on Aging on strategies to save Medicare through prevention of chronic diseases associated with aging.
Dr David Gems, University College London The prospects for treating human ageing
David is a Reader in the Biology of Ageing, and a Deputy Director of the Institute of Healthy Ageing. He was a postdoc at the University of Missouri-Columbia working with Don Riddle before moving to UCL with a Royal Society fellowship in 1997. Much of his work uses the nematode /C./ /elegans/ to understand the genes and mechanisms that control ageing. He has also contributed to studies of ageing in /Drosophila/, the mouse, and other animal species, and also written about the ethical implications of research on ageing.
Professor Janet Lord, University of BirminghamFuture directions for the new science of ageing (Discussion Session)
Professor Lord is a Principal Investigator in the MRC Centre for Immune Regulation at Birmingham University Medical School. Her primary research focus is in the effect of ageing upon immune function and how this limits the ability of older adults to resolve inflammation and predisposes them to chronic inflammatory disease (Rheumatoid arthritis). She has a particular interest in the role played by stress and the altered HPA axis in modulating immunity in old age. Professor Lord was chair of the British Society for Research on Ageing from 2002-2006 and as a result of the 2005 House of Lords inquiry into Ageing: Scientific Aspects, she helped to reform the British Council for Ageing in 2006.
Book prize event 6 Mar
History of science lecture 7 Mar
Enter your email address to receive updates about scientific meetings at the Royal Society
Full listing of our events and exhibitions.
Watch videos of past events.
Most of our talks are free and open to the public.
We host major conferences for leading scientists.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Contact the events team.