On August 29, Calico Life Sciences hosted an event featuring a panel discussion on the latest directions in aging research. The panelists included Cynthia Kenyon (Calico Life Sciences), Judith Campisi (Buck Institute on Aging Research) and Danica Chen (UC Berkeley); all leading aging experts from the San Francisco Bay Area research ecosystem. The vibrant discussion was moderated by Elcin Unal from UC Berkeley.
Click here for more photos
There were over 75 guests in attendance at this much-anticipated event. Calico generously provided WIB with the use of the event space alongside an array of food and drinks. The program started with an initial networking mixer, followed by the panel discussion which engaged with the very enthusiastic audience. Aging is an inevitable and multifaceted process that affects every individual. Research in this field has gained momentum and relevance in recent years, given that populations around the globe are aging at unprecedented rates. The panelists discussed some of the key discoveries and ideas that shape modern aging research and interventions that have shown promise in delaying the onset of age-associated disease. An important feature of the aging process is its plasticity, and this was discussed in detail. For example, single genes can modulate lifespan, and calorie restriction (CR) extends lifespan and delays age-related diseases in a variety of experimental species. Relatively recent insights from studies involving parabiosis were also discussed. In these studies, the circulatory systems of a young and an old mouse are joined together, and they reveal that circulating factors in young blood are able to ‘rejuvenate’ the older individual, particularly its brain. The panelists also talked about various challenges in aging research including the heterogeneity of aging (between individuals and between organs of the same individual), the need for detailed population-level datasets, and the complexities of following aging longitudinally throughout individual lifetimes. Finally, the ethics of aging research was questioned by the audience: do we really need to extend lifespan and is it ultimately good for human society? The panelists elaborated on the fact that aging research is fundamentally about increasing healthspan (the number of healthy and disease-free years) rather than absolute lifespan. The goal is to add life to years, not years to life!
The discussion continued into the second round of informal networking where attendees could interact with the panelists and mingle with other guests. Overall, it appeared that the guests enjoyed attending the event, making new connections, and engaging in stimulating conversations. A special shout out to Calico for being a wonderful host and to all volunteers at WIB who contributed to making the event so successful!