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  • American Federation for Aging Research

Understanding How We Age

The second we’re born; we begin to age – so it’s no wonder that the investigation into human aging is a dynamic and growing field of research that impacts us all. The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) supports the foundation of basic science and biomedical research; with the mission to support and advance healthy aging. Science is vital to every aspect of our health and AFAR is dedicated to backing research that will bring critical interventions out of labs and into our lives. The continued breakthroughs over the next few years will provide essential insight into the medical and research community’s ability to target aging and preserve health.

Targeting aging may seem like an abstract concept but it’s, in fact, a precise objective that many AFAR Grantees are working on. Through multiple grant programs AFAR is fully committed to strengthening a pipeline of new and emerging investigators to pursue and stay engaged in aging research. Researchers like 2020 junior faculty grantee Christina Camell, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Camell’s work brings together understanding of the immune system and its impacts on metabolic disease. Her lab is ultimately focused on how healthspan (the length of time spent in good health) can be improved by restoring the metabolism of the aging population.

There’s also an opportunity to learn from those who already seem to age healthily. Take centenarians as an example, who while living to be over 100, have shockingly low rates of morbidity. AFAR Scientific Director Nir Barzilai considers this compression of morbidity, an extension of wisdom. The longer centenarians can thrive the more we can learn from their extensive life experience. A majority of centenarians have genetic changes in their growth genes early in life, which implies they have some protective genes that could hold the key for healthy aging for us all. Dr. Barzilai has focused on centenarians and their amazing ability to show us how maintaining excellent health late in life is possible.

Along with solid scientific research into the mechanism of aging, is also the lens of lifestyle interventions. Experts who are working to understand what we can do practically to age in a healthier way. Previous AFAR grantee Satchin Panda examines this in his new book The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health from Morning to Midnight. The power of intermittent fasting to improve health has been seen in multiple animal models. The expansion of that success into humans could mean even more lifestyle breakthroughs to helping us all live better, longer.

Thanks to the rigorous scientific research supported by AFAR, the future of aging research is poised to make a powerful and lasting impact on our lives. Interested in learning more about what’s happening to help us all live longer and healthier lives? AFAR offers extensive free programming and resources.

Check out AFAR's latest work on living longer and living well, here.

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