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Geroscience is an interdisciplinary field that aims to understand, at the molecular level, the relationship between biological aging and age-related diseases and other conditions that diminish our quality of life.[1] Because aging is the major cause for most common chronic diseases and conditions, an understanding of the role of aging in the onset and progression of disease should open up new avenues for prevention, amelioration, and cure of multiple chronic conditions through intervention in their underlying cause — aging itself.[1] Geroscience is therefore a school or focus of biogerontology, but its research spans multiple disciplines including molecular biology, neuroscience, protein chemistry, cell biology, genetics, endocrinology, pharmacology, mathematics, and others.[1] The common goal is to understand the role of aging in age-related loss of quality of life and susceptibility to disease.

Diseases of aging are arguably the single greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Statistics from numerous sources highlight the fact that age-related diseases increasingly represent a true worldwide emergency: for example, by 2030 the national healthcare bill in the US is projected to reach four trillion dollars, with fully 50% of that being required for Americans 65 years and older (see statistics supplied by the National Institute on Aging and the Alliance for Aging Research).[2]


The traditional approach in biomedical research is to investigate single-diseases and conditions in isolation. A more efficient approach would be investigating the cause(s) of aging itself as the driver of these multiple conditions. Treating aging (the major risk factor for most chronic conditions) the way we currently approach other medical conditions such as hypertension (the major risk factor for CVD), holds the possibility of delaying or preventing many diseases and conditions of later life as a group. The term "geroscience" was coined by Buck Institute for Research on Aging scientist Gordon J. Lithgow, in 2007 to embrace interdisciplinary research aimed at approaching aging and age-related disease in this way.[3] Geroscience addresses a wide variety of disease states, including non-life-threatening conditions such as fatigability, sarcopenia, and frailty. As such, geroscience is broader in scope than traditional disciplines such as neurodegeneration, cancer biology, and geriatric medicine. It is also distinct from the traditional discipline of geriatrics, which is a branch of medicine dedicated to the treatment of disease in aged people, and gerontology, which has large patient care and social sciences components.

The coalescence of geroscience has been facilitated on the conceptual side by the development of taxonomies that have endeavored to classify the core cellular and molecular drivers of biological aging and its diseases[3] (e.g. the "Hallmarks of Aging,"[4] the "Pillars of Aging,"[5] and the planks of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) platform[6]), and on the experimental side the results from the National Institute on Aging's Interventions Testing Program, which tests interventions (primarily pharmacological) that lead to an increase in both lifespan and healthspan in animal models, with some notable successes.[3][7]

Many human clinical trials have failed in part due to an incomplete picture of the nature of complex chronic diseases of the elderly. Biogerontology has developed spectacularly over the last twenty-five years, and the manipulation of longevity in simple laboratory animals by genetic modification or pharmacological interventions is now commonplace, yet the potential impact of these new findings for human health has yet to be achieved.[8] However, a central concept of geroscience is that multiple human diseases arise from a common cause: aging itself.[1][3]

Interest groups[edit]

In 2011 the term "geroscience" was adopted by a trans-NIH team interested in the same concepts, the Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG).[3][9] GSIG works with NIH and external stakeholders to promote geroscience research through activities that include workshops, seminars, and publications. The scientific discipline was recognized in the U.S. Senate Appropriations on the FY2010 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Bill.[10]

Geroscience was the organizing principle of the Interdisciplinary Research Consortium on Geroscience established at the Buck Institute.[11][12] This Consortium was funded by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund. The IRC on Geroscience was also discussed in the Senate Report 110-527: "The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Interdisciplinary Research Consortium in Geroscience fosters collaboration among biologists, biochemists, geneticists, physicians, physiologists, statisticians, and chemists that will help scientists to better understand age-related diseases and disorders. Examples include studies of the effects of diet on aging and why the aging brain recovers less easily from traumatic brain injury.[13]

The NIH, with support from the Alliance for Aging Research and the Gerontological Society of America, hosted “Advances in Geroscience: Impacts on Healthspan and Chronic Disease” on October 30–31, 2013. This scientific conference, which took place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, examined the extent to which the physiological effects of aging represent a common major risk factor for chronic diseases.[14] A subsequent Summit, held in New York City under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences focused on the reverse side of the issue: attendees at the “Disease Drivers of Aging” meeting discussed how some chronic diseases and/or their treatments accelerate the aging process, thus rendering patients more vulnerable to additional diseases and ailments most commonly seen in elderly individuals.[15]

The private sector has become involved in geroscience, including Google's $2B aging research company Calico, Craig Venter's Human Longevity Inc., and investors such as Apollo Ventures and Juvenescence. [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Lithgow GJ (1 September 2013). "Origins of Geroscience". Public Policy & Aging Report. 4 (1): 10–11. doi:10.1093/ppar/23.4.10. 
  2. ^ "The Silver Book: Chronic Disease and Medical Innovation in an Aging Nation" (PDF). Washington DC: Alliance for Aging Research. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Sierra F, Kohanski R (February 2017). "Geroscience and the trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group, GSIG". GeroScience. 39 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1007/s11357-016-9954-6. PMC 5352582Freely accessible. PMID 28299635. 
  4. ^ López-Otín C, Blasco MA, Partridge L, Serrano M, Kroemer G (June 2013). "The hallmarks of aging". Cell. 153 (6): 1194–217. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.039. PMC 3836174Freely accessible. PMID 23746838. 
  5. ^ Kennedy BK, Berger SL, Brunet A, Campisi J, Cuervo AM, Epel ES, Franceschi C, Lithgow GJ, Morimoto RI, Pessin JE, Rando TA, Richardson A, Schadt EE, Wyss-Coray T, Sierra F (November 2014). "Geroscience: linking aging to chronic disease". Cell. 159 (4): 709–13. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.10.039. PMC 4852871Freely accessible. PMID 25417146. 
  6. ^ de Grey AD, Ames BN, Andersen JK, Bartke A, Campisi J, Heward CB, McCarter RJ, Stock G (April 2002). "Time to talk SENS: critiquing the immutability of human aging" (PDF). Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 959: 452–62; discussion 463–5. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb02115.x. PMID 11976218. 
  7. ^ "Interventions Testing Program (ITP)". National Institute on Aging. Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  8. ^ Guarente L, Partridge L, Wallace D (2007). Molecular Biology of Aging. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. ISBN 978-0-87969-824-9. 
  9. ^ "GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG)". National Institutes of Health Office of Intramural Research. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  10. ^ "Appropriation Bill, 2010 (H.R. 3293)" (PDF). Senate Report 111-66, August 4th, 2009. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  11. ^ "Geroscience". National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 20118/04/01.
  12. ^ "Geroscience". Geroscience. Buck Institute for Aging Research. Archived from the original on 9 November 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  13. ^ United States Congress Senate Special Committee (January 2011). Recognition of Excellence in Aging Research Committee Report. BiblioGov. ISBN 978-1-240-62156-9. 
  14. ^ "NIH to host October 2013 geroscience summit". NIH National Institute on Aging. 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  15. ^ Hodes RJ, Sierra F, Austad SN, Epel E, Neigh GN, Erlandson KM, Schafer MJ, LeBrasseur NK, Wiley C, Campisi J, Sehl ME, Scalia R, Eguchi S, Kasinath BS, Halter JB, Cohen HJ, Demark-Wahnefried W, Ahles TA, Barzilai N, Hurria A, Hunt PW (December 2016). "Disease drivers of aging". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1386 (1): 45–68. doi:10.1111/nyas.13299. PMC 5373660Freely accessible. PMID 27943360. 
  16. ^ "The Renaissance of Rejuvenation Biotechnology". Longevity Reporter. Retrieved 2018-07-08.