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Living longer: why, and how?

Interventions that delay ageing could help prevent multiple diseases
Ageing is the main cause of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Given this exorable link, can we extend our lifespan without risking our health and quality of life?

The older we grow, the more susceptible we are to illness. Is there anything that can be done to delay ageing? And does living healthier mean living longer? Our esteemed panel of speakers will explore interventions that impact the ageing process.

Hear from the University of Sydney's Professor Luigi Fontana, who offers insights into the role of diet in contributing to healthy longevity. Professor Brian Kennedy brings pharmaceuticals into perspective, and considers how they can help to delay ageing. Dr Felipe Sierra from the United States-based National Institute on Aging will focus on geroscience – what is it and why does it matter? How can understanding the biology of ageing help us to address chronic diseases? Professor Victoria Cogger chaired this conversation.

This event was presented in conjunction with the Australian Biology of Ageing Conference 2019 (held on 26-28 August 2019 at the University of Sydney), a collaboration between the Charles Perkins Centrethe Ageing and Alzheimer's Institute and the Nathan Shock Centers

It was held on Tuesday 27 August, 2019 at the University of Sydney.

The speakers

Luigi joined the University of Sydney in 2018 as the Leonard P. Ullman Chair in Translational Metabolic Health, leading the research and clinical program of healthy longevity at the Charles Perkins Centre.

He is interested in preventive medicine and the mechanisms mediating healthy longevity in humans. He is focused primarily on the role of nutrition and physical exercise in retarding the ageing process and in preventing age-associated chronic disease. In particular, he is applying whole-body physiological and tissue-specific molecular approaches to investigate the effects of several clinical interventions, including calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, protein restriction, phytochemical-rich plant-based diets, and physical exercise, on outcomes such as cardiovascular function, glucose metabolism, inflammation, neuroendocrine and immune function, gut microbiome and cancer biology. 

Brian is Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Physiology at National University of Singapore. His research in the Kennedy lab is directed at understanding the biology of ageing and translating research discoveries into new ways of delaying, detecting, preventing and treating human ageing and associated diseases.

Brian is the former president and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California (2010-16). Formerly, he was 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 renowned biologist Leonard P Guarente that he initiated studies of the biology of ageing, where he identified Sirtuins as key modulators of longevity in yeast. One focus of his current lab still centres on Sir2 and ageing.

Felipe has been the Director of the Division of Aging Biology at the National Institute on Aging, within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States since 2006. Trained as a biochemist in his native Chile, he obtained a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Florida in 1983. He developed his interest in the biology of ageing during a stint working in industry (at Nestlé in Switzerland) and has held various roles in academia.

Dr Sierra is the founder and coordinator of the trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG). The group spans the entire NIH, and is built on the fact that ageing is the major risk factor for most chronic age-related diseases – Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and more. Thus understanding the basic biology of ageing is central to our ability to address these diseases. In 2013 and 2014 he received NIH Director’s Awards for his efforts in this field.

Victoria is an active member of the ‘Biology of Ageing’ project node of the Charles Perkins Centre. She completed a BSc (Hons) in 1999 followed by a PhD on the Ultrastructure of the Ageing Liver, graduating from the University of Sydney in 2003. She was awarded a Healthy Ageing Postdoctoral Fellowship and travelled to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda to complete postdoctoral studies. Victoria now leads research investigating the biology of ageing; with a particular focus on the liver and targeted interventions for treating age-related disease using nanomedicines.

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