Conference review: Molecular Basis of Aging

For those of you still waiting with bated breath, the promised review of the Boehringer-Ingelheim 95th International Titisee* Conference has finally been published. The review was written collaboratively along with two other attendees.

Nearly 20 years ago, researchers discovered that lifespan can be extended by single-gene mutations in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Further studies revealed that the mechanisms governing aging in the smallest organisms have been evolutionarily conserved and may operate in human beings. Since then, the field of biogerontology has expanded considerably, learning from – and contributing to – such disparate fields as cell signaling, metabolism, endocrinology, and a wide range of human diseases including cancer. To date, newly discovered connections and novel interdisciplinary approaches gradually unify what once seemed unrelated observations between seemingly disparate research areas. While this unification is far from complete, several overlapping themes have clearly emerged. At the 95th International Titisee Conference, devoted to “The Molecular Basis of Aging,” 60 of the world’s pre-eminent biogerontologists shared their most recent findings in the biology of aging, and discussed interdisciplinary connections between diverse fields.

This review is based not very loosely on a piece we wrote for the Boehringer-Ingelheim Fonds in-house newsletter, aimed at a very general audience, so it’s not especially technical — non-academic readers (or those whose biogerontology is a little rusty) will still get a lot out of it.

If you’re not at an academic institution, you can download the PDF version right here. (I am curious whether Elsevier will issue a cease and desist for posting that: I’m one of the authors, I wrote it for free, and anyone could just email me and ask for one, so it’s hard to see the harm.)

* The name is funny in German, too.