Luigi Fontana (medical researcher)

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Luigi Fontana
Fontana in July 2017
Fontana in July 2017
BornLuigi N Fontana
(1969-04-22) April 22, 1969 (age 50)
Trento, Italy
  • Physician
  • Scientist
  • Professor
  • Author
Alma mater
Notable awards2016 AFAR Cristofalo Award
Years active1994–present

Luigi Fontana, M.D., PhD, FRACP (born April 22, 1969) is an internationally recognized physician scientist who studies healthy longevity, with a focus on calorie restriction, endurance exercise and metabolism. He is currently the Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Translational Metabolic Health at the Charles Perkins Centre, where he directs the Healthy Longevity Research and Clinical Program. He is also a Professor of Medicine and Nutrition in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and a Clinical Academic in the Department of Endocrinology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia.[1] Fontana is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Washington University in St.Louis, USA.


Fontana received his medical training at the University of Verona in Italy and graduated with honors in 1994. After two years as intern and resident at the University of Verona Medical School, Fontana joined the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology at the King's College School of Medicine, University of London in 1997. He returned to University of Verona in 1998 to become Chief Medical Resident in Internal and Emergency Medicine and graduated in 1999. In 2004 he completed his PhD in Metabolism at University of Padova School of Medicine in Italy.


He is the recipient of three prestigious awards: the 2009 American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) Breakthroughs in Gerontology Award,[2] the 2011 Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging,[3] and the 2016 Vincent Cristofalo Award of the American Federation for Aging Research.[4] He was a Scientific Member of the Board of Directors of the American Aging Association,[5] and is the Editor in Chief of the scientific journal "Nutrition and Healthy Aging".[6]


His research has focused primarily on dietary restriction and its effects on aging and the prevention of age-associated chronic disease. Around 2012 he started a long-term study of 45 members of the Calorie Restriction Society with the intention of tracking their health for around 12 years each.[7][8] He also has been a primary investigator in the CALERIE trial, which started in 2007, in which people were placed on a diet with 25% fewer calories and received regular counseling to help them remain on it.[7] Because of his pioneering studies on the metabolic and molecular effects of dietary restriction, he is now considered to be one of the world-leading scientists in the field of nutrition and healthy aging in humans.[9] His studies have opened a new area of nutrition-related research that holds tremendous promise for the prevention of age-related chronic diseases and for the understanding of the biology of human aging.[10]

Dr. Fontana and his laboratory are currently focused on understanding the role of specific nutrition (e.g. calorie restriction, fasting, protein restriction, plant-based diet) and aerobic exercise interventions in preventing and treating multiple age-related diseases that share a common metabolic substrate.[11] This new approach is based on growing evidence from the “biology of ageing” field showing that targeting well-characterized metabolic and molecular pathways can inhibit the accumulation of cellular and tissue damage, and dramatically extend healthspan and influence the clinical progression of multiple chronic conditions.[12] Dr. Fontana's research program employs state-of-the-art whole-body physiological and tissue-specific molecular techniques to well-designed randomized clinical trials to evaluate the clinical, metabolic, and molecular effects of nutritional and other lifestyle manipulations.

Nutrition and environmental health[edit]

Professor Fontana has also a keen interest in the role of nutrition in promoting environmental health. In 2013, he wrote a perspective article with Daniel Kammen on the beneficial role of efficient use of energy and food in promoting human, environmental, and planetary health, and sustainable economic development.[13] The current global food system is not only responsible for the growing pandemic of obesity, malnutrition and chronic disease, but also for over 30% of greenhouse-gas emissions, widespread (soil, water, air) pollution, damage to ecosystems, and loss of biodiversity. Fontana and colleagues believe that it is possible to substantially enhance human and environmental health, societal wealth and well-being, but this requires a profound transformation in the way we live, and a new environment-centered industrial and economic system. They argue that most of the knowledge and technology to transform the world and begin a new industrial revolution already exist today. We only need to relinquish the idea of producing more energy, food, and other products at lower cost in favor of a new paradigm that opts for less but high-quality energy, food and materials for a healthier life and environment. They also claim that “both individual and societal wealth, happiness, and well-being do not depend merely on the acquisition of material goods and on economic growth, but are powered by our physical and psychological health, the quality of life and the richness of our social relationships, and foremost by the health of the environment that supports all life on earth, our Natural Capital that must be preserved”.


As of 2019 his most-cited and influential papers were:[14]

  • Fontana, L; Partridge, L; Longo, VD (2010). "Extending healthy life span--from yeast to humans". Science. 328 (5976): 321–6. doi:10.1126/science.1172539. PMC 3607354. PMID 20395504.
  • Fontana, L; Kennedy, BK; Longo, VD; Seals, D; Melov, S (2014). "Medical research: treat ageing". Nature. 511 (7510): 405–7. doi:10.1038/511405a. PMID 25056047. open access
  • Fontana, L; Partridge, L (2015). "Promoting health and longevity through diet: from model organisms to humans". Cell. 161 (1): 106–118. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.020. PMC 4547605. PMID 25815989. open access
  • Muegge, BD; Kuczynski, J; Knights, D; Clemente, JC; González, A; Fontana, L; Henrissat, B; Knight, R; Gordon, JI (2011). "Diet drives convergence in gut microbiome functions across mammalian phylogeny and within humans". Science. 332 (6032): 970–4. doi:10.1126/science.1198719. PMC 3303602. PMID 21596990.
  • Dey, N; Wagner, VE; Blanton, LV; Cheng, J; Fontana, L; Haque, R; Ahmed, T; Gordon, JI (2015). "Regulators of gut motility revealed by a gnotobiotic model of diet-microbiome interactions related to travel". Cell. 163 (1): 95–107. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.059. PMID 26406373.
  • Klein, S; Fontana, L; Young, VL; Coggan, AR; Kilo, C; Patterson, BW; Mohammed, BS (2004). "Absence of an effect of liposuction on insulin action and risk factors for coronary heart disease". The New England Journal of Medicine. 350 (25): 2549–57. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa033179. PMID 15201411. open access
  • Fontana, L; Klein, S (2007). "Aging, adiposity, and calorie restriction". JAMA. 297 (9): 986–94. doi:10.1001/jama.297.9.986. PMID 17341713.
  • Fontana, L; Meyer, TE; Klein, S; Holloszy, JO (2004). "Long-term calorie restriction is highly effective in reducing the risk for atherosclerosis in humans". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 101 (17): 6659–63. doi:10.1073/pnas.0308291101. PMC 404101. PMID 15096581.
  • Fontana, L; Eagon, JC; Trujillo, ME; Scherer, PE; Klein, S (2007). "Visceral fat adipokine secretion is associated with systemic inflammation in obese humans". Diabetes. 56 (4): 1010–3. doi:10.2337/db06-1656. PMID 17287468. open access
  • Meyer, TE; Kovacs, SJ; Ehsani, AA; Klein, S; Holloszy, JO; Fontana, L (2006). "Long-term caloric restriction ameliorates the decline in diastolic function in humans". J Am Coll Cardiol. 47 (2): 398–402. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2005.08.069. PMID 16412867.
  • Kraus, WE; Bhapkar, M; Huffman, KM; Pieper, CF; Krupa Das, S; Redman, LM; Villareal, DT; Rochon, J; Roberts, SB; Ravussin, E; Holloszy, JO; Fontana, L (2019). "2 years of calorie restriction and cardiometabolic risk (CALERIE): exploratory outcomes of a multicentre, phase 2, randomised controlled trial". Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 7 (9): 673–683. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30151-2. PMID 31303390.
  • Mittendorfer, B; Klein, S; Fontana, L (2020). "A word of caution against excessive protein intake". Nat Rev Endocrinol. 16 (1): 59–66. doi:10.1038/s41574-019-0274-7. PMID 31728051.


  • Berrino F, Fontana L. La Grande Via: Nutrizione, Movimento, Meditazione. Mondadori Editori, 2017.
  • Fontana L, Vittorio Fusari. La felicità ha il sapore della salute. Slow Food Editore, 2018.
  • Fontana L, Vittorio Fusari. La table de longue vie. Éditions du Rouergue, 2019.
  • Fontana L. The Path to Longevity. Hardie Grant Publishing, 2020.


  1. ^ "Academic Profile". University of Sydney. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Award". AFAR. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Award". Glenn Foundation. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Award". AFAR. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Board Member". AGE. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Editor". IOS. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b Underwood, Anne (5 December 2008). "The Search for Longer Life". Newsweek.
  8. ^ Gertner, Jon (October 7, 2009). "The Calorie-Restriction Experiment". New York Times.
  9. ^ "The Search for Longer Life". 1 August 2018.
  10. ^ (Fontana, L; Partridge, L (26 March 2015). "Promoting health and longevity through diet: from model organisms to humans". Cell. 161 (1): 106–118. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.020. PMC 4547605. PMID 25815989.)
  11. ^ (Fontana, L (2018). "Interventions to promote cardiometabolic health and slow cardiovascular ageing". Nat Rev Cardiol. 15 (9): 566–577. doi:10.1038/s41569-018-0026-8. PMID 29795242.)
  12. ^ (Fontana, L; Kennedy, BK; Longo, VD; Seals, D; Melov, S (2014). "Medical research: treat ageing". Nature. 511 (7510): 405–7. doi:10.1038/511405a. PMID 25056047.)
  13. ^ (Fontana, L; Atella, V; Kammen, DM (2 April 2013). "Energy efficiency as a unifying principle for human, environmental, and global health". F1000Research. 2: 101. doi:10.12688/f1000research.2-101.v1. PMC 3869478. PMID 24555053.)
  14. ^ "Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD". Google Scholar. Retrieved 12 May 2019.

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