Buck Institute for Research on Aging

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Buck Institute for Research on Aging
Logo of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.png
Established 30 Sep 1999
President Eric M. Verdin
Budget $37 million
Formerly called Buck Institute for Age Research
Location Novato, California, United States
Coordinates 38.133939°N 122.570432°W
Address 8001 Redwood Blvd.
Novato, CA 94945-1400
Website thebuck.org

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging[1] is an independent biomedical research institute devoted solely to research on aging and age-related disease. The mission of the Buck Institute is to extend the healthspan, the healthy years of life.

The institute, a nonprofit organization located in Novato, California, began its research program in 1999 making it the world's first institute founded primarily to research aging.[2] It is named for Marin County philanthropists Leonard and Beryl Hamilton Buck, whose estate funded the endowment that helped establish the institute, and the Buck Trust currently contributes approximately $6 million annually to support the institute's work. In May 2007, the institute established a cooperative agreement with the University of California's Davis and Merced campuses to coordinate stem-cell research, a move hailed by UC as a collaboration that "strengthens California's leadership in stem cell research and moves it forward in an efficient, safe and cost-effective manner."[3]

The campus of the Buck Institute was designed by architect I. M. Pei, who submitted an unsolicited proposal to design the research facility.[4][5]


The institute's 250+ researchers work across disciplines to understand the aging process and its link to chronic disease. Buck Institute scientists have authored more than 660 scholarly papers for scientific journals since its opening in 1999.[6]

The Buck Institute's program in Regenerative Medicine and Aging focuses on three questions:

  1. why do aging tissues lose their capacity to regenerate?
  2. why do stem cells fail to function as one gets older?
  3. how do tissues change during aging such that they no longer support normal regenerative processes?

The research at the Buck Institute is supported by "technology cores" which include genomics, proteomics and mass spectrometry, morphology, transgenics, and bioinformatics.

The Buck Institute is one of seven organizations that compose The Glenn Foundation for Research in Aging.[7]


The Buck Foundation Trust was created by Beryl Hamilton Buck after the death in 1953 of her husband, pathologist Leonard W. Buck. Leonard's father, Frank Buck, was one of the founders of Belridge Oil.[8] When Beryl Buck died in 1975, the bulk of the estate became part of the San Francisco Foundation, about $7.6 million dedicated to "charitable purposes in Marin County" including, "extending help to the problems of aging." The Belridge Oil stock in the trust was bought in 1979 by Shell Oil for $253 million, increasing the trust's value substantially.[8][9] Attempts by the San Francisco Foundation to use the cy pres doctrine to spend outside of Marin County resulted in litigation which the SF Foundation lost.[8][10]

As part of a 1986 court settlement, the Marin Community Foundation was established which administers the trust, today valued at approximately $1 billion.[11] The settlement distributes 80% of the trust's annual earnings to causes specific to Marin County. It divides the remaining 20% among three Marin County organizations:

  • the Buck Institute for Research on Aging,
  • the Buck Institute for Education,[12] and
  • Alcohol Justice, formerly named The Marin Institute, which deals with alcohol-related problems.

Attorney Mary McEachron was instrumental in the 1986 settlement agreement. In 1985 she helped convene a panel of experts to discuss the creation of a freestanding research institute focused on problems facing the aging population. In its final gathering, the panel challenged the new institute “to become the pre-eminent research institute on aging; establish for itself a national reputation; and contribute significantly to our (nation’s) ability to reduce disability and dependency in later life.”


As of 2013, the number of full-time employees was 272. Adding volunteers, students, visiting scientists, and temporary employees, the workforce numbers 318.[13]

Its current president and CEO, Eric M. Verdin, was appointed in November 2016. He succeeds Brian K. Kennedy and founding president and CEO, Dale Bredesen, who now heads the lab focused on Alzheimer's Disease research.[14]

About half of its support comes from peer-reviewed grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. Foundations and private donors contribute another 35% of the funding. An endowment from the Buck Trust Fund provides approximately 15 percent of the annual budget.[13]


The campus of the Buck Institute, as seen from Highway 101.

The Institute is on a 488-acre (1.97 km2; 0.76 sq mi) site located in the foothills of Mount Burdell, north of Novato, California. Of this, a 238-acre (0.96 km2; 0.37 sq mi) portion is dedicated to permanent agricultural use; another 70-acre (0.28 km2; 0.11 sq mi) portion is open public space.

Architect I. M. Pei responded in 1989 to a request to submit a proposal to design the research facility. Pei's master plan called for 355,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of laboratory and facility space.[4] The multi-stage plan was for five linked buildings around a one-acre hexagonal courtyard, designed to provide a green oasis for quiet contemplation and outdoor activities. Pei used varied geometric elements and floating staircases, which appear throughout both the administrative and research buildings.

Construction commenced in 1996. The structure of the buildings is concrete and steel-framed. About 50,000 blocks of honey-colored travertine limestone were used to clad the exterior walls of the Institute and line the atrium space. Visitors enter through the Administration Building, where community outreach programs and the 227-seat Drexler Auditorium are located off a large skylit exhibition space. The atrium is accentuated by a 75-foot-high skylight. Laboratory modules are similarly organized around central atria, each interior space illuminated with natural light. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the atria offer vistas of the surrounding countryside.


Buck Institute conducts its research programs through twenty laboratories that focus on specific subjects. Mount Tam Biotechnologies, named for Mount Tamalpais, the highest peak in Marin County, is researching the effects the drug rapamycin has on extending health spans in animals via the mTOR gene pathways. The Buck Institute owns significant legal rights to the drug, but has leased out its rights to Mount Tam Bio.[2]


The Buck Institute for Research on Aging takes the deep understanding of the aging process held by the brain trust of global scientific leaders in aging and translates it into the development of interventions which maintain and restore function in older individuals. One example is the creation of Unity Biotechnology a start-up that emerged from the Buck Institute in 2016 and uses novel methods that target damaged senescent cells which cause degenerative disease. To assist in the creation of companies that can translate the science, the Buck has the Buck Advisory Council and Entrepreneur's Longevity Club, both groups provide interested individuals ways to engage and participate in accelerating the science that leads to interventions in the aging process.



  1. ^ On January 1, 2011, the name of the institute was changed from "Buck Institute for Age Research"
  2. ^ a b Cox, Patrick. "This Company With Anti-Aging Drug Is Secretly Preparing For Trump's New FDA". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  3. ^ "UC Davis, UC Merced and Buck Institute: Cooperate to Meet Stem Cell Oversight Requirements". California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Buck Institute for Age Research". Pei Cobb Freed and Partners. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Buck is Growing". Marin Magazine. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "The New Regenerative Medicine Research Building at the Buck Institute for Age Research Novato, California". Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Glenn Foundation for Medical Research". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  8. ^ a b c Dale, Harvey P. (March 18, 1987). "The Buck Trust". New York University. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 
  9. ^ Robert R. Augsburger, Victoria Chang, William F. Meehan III (1998-01-01). "The San Francisco Foundation: The Dilemma of the Buck Trust (A)". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  10. ^ Friedman, Lawrence Mier (2009). Dead Hands: a social history of wills, trusts, and inheritance law. Stanford University Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 9780804760362. 
  11. ^ "About MCF". Marin Community Foundation. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  12. ^ "The BIE Story". Buck Institute for Education. Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  13. ^ a b "News & Events, Quick Facts". Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Davidson, Keay (2004-09-13). "Researchers discover 'Jekyll and Hyde' cancer gene/Amount of a specific protein determines whether a tumor is created or suppressed". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°08′02″N 122°34′14″W / 38.133939°N 122.570432°W / 38.133939; -122.570432