Aging is one of the most mysterious processes in biology. We don’t know, scientifically speaking, what exactly it is. We do know for sure when it ends, but to make matters even more inscrutable, the timing of death is determined by factors that are in many cases statistically random.
Researchers in the lab of Walter Fontana, Harvard Medical School professor of systems biology, have found patterns in this randomness that provide clues into the biological basis of aging.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today released the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020: Turning Discovery Into Health, which will ensure the agency remains well positioned to capitalize on new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new challenges for human health.
Several neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are characterized by proteins that accumulate in the brain. One protein, called tau, clumps into twisted threads known as tangles. These are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and several other neurodegenerative disorders known as tauopathies.
Alzheimer’s disease affects one of every nine Americans age 65 or older, and some experts estimate that this number will double by 2050. As more and more people develop memory loss, individuals are finding creative ways to help those afflicated. One of these unlikely places? Museums.
The White House has held a Conference on Aging every decade, beginning in 1961, to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans.
In 2015, the United States marked the 50th anniversaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) provided an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the next decade.
At first glance, it’s hard to tell what’s wrong with Keiko Sawada.
“I don’t hate being alone, but I do feel lonely at times,” Sawada, a sociable and talkative woman, said during a recent visit to her one-room apartment in Nakano Ward, Tokyo. “Of course I’m worried about what will happen to me in the future. I’m 85, after all.”
As casual exchanges continue, however, it becomes increasingly clear the former bar hostess has serious memory problems.
Like many people who care for elderly family members at home, Norio Watanabe, 51, struggled to deal with the physical and mental burdens of looking after his father, who had dementia.
For about four years until his father’s death in 2014, everyday life for the single Watanabe was packed with care and work. He woke up at 3 a.m. to prepare a special meal for his father, who had a kidney disease, and changed his diaper before heading for work at a food catering company.
Dvastating brain diseases like Frontotemporal Dementia and Alzheimer’s have been painfully slow to give up their secrets. But behavioral neurologist Brad Dickerson, MD, and his Mass General research team are tracking an important protein that has long eluded measurement in the living brain. Their work may mark a turning point in how such now-incurable conditions are understood and treated.