BAR HARBOR, MAINE – Preventative medicine is on the cusp of a transformation that will allow it to slow the rate of aging while also decreasing susceptibility to age-related degenerative diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
The recent advances in the science of aging will be the topic of an MDI Science Café presentation by MDI Biological Laboratory scientist Aric Rogers, Ph.D., entitled “Slowing Aging to Prevent Age-Related Disease and Decline.” The café will be held on Monday, Aug. 7, at 5 p.m. at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor.
“Experiments carried out in many labs over many years suggest that science can really can slow the aging process and decrease our vulnerability to diseases of aging like cancer and Alzheimer’s,” Rogers says. “This raises the question, ‘Why don’t we have a magic pill to prevent aging?’ The answer is that it may already exist.”
In his presentation, Rogers will talk about why nature allows for changes in the rate of aging that affect disease susceptibility, how lifestyle changes can tap into genetic programs that promote robust health and why science is on the verge of being able to extend the healthy period of life well into old age.
Rogers studies the molecular mechanisms underlying aging in C. elegans, a tiny, soil-dwelling roundworm that is a favorite animal model in aging research because its short lifespan allows scientists to quickly assess the effect of anti-aging interventions and because it shares many of its genes with humans.
Originally an atmospheric scientist, Rogers switched fields in mid-career after seeing a television documentary on the science of aging. When he realized that the practice of medicine was about to be transformed as a result of breakthroughs in aging research, he decided he wanted to be a part of that transformation.
Specifically, Rogers studies the effects of dietary restriction — or drastically restricting nutrients without causing malnutrition — which has long been known to prolong lifespan in a wide range of species. He is identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon with an eye toward developing therapies to manipulate them.
“It’s tantalizing to think that we might be able to activate a protective response to enhance our own health without resorting to extreme dietary regimes,” he says.
MDI Science Cafés are offered to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science. Short presentations delivered in everyday language are followed by lively, informal discussion.
The cafés are sponsored by Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and Cross Insurance. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please visit mdibl.org/events/ or call 207-288-3147.
About the MDI Biological Laboratory
Our scientists are pioneering new approaches to regenerative medicine focused on drugs that activate our natural ability to heal, and that slow age-related degenerative changes. Our unique approach has identified new drugs with the potential to treat major diseases, demonstrating that regeneration could be as simple as taking a pill. As innovators and entrepreneurs, we also teach what we know. Our Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation prepares students for 21st century careers and equips entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to turn great ideas into successful products. For more information, please visit mdibl.org.