2007 Hillblom Meeting: Morning session 1

Today I’m attending the 6th annual scientific meeting of the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, the kind people who pay my salary. I’m going to do my best to liveblog the highlights of this year’s meeting as they happen; if you’re interested in my thoughts about last year’s conference, please check out my review here.

I got stuck on the 880 South and missed Dale Bredesen, formerly CEO of the Buck Institute; I walked in to hear most of UCSD’s Laura Dugan’s discussion of oxidative damage and cell loss in the aging brain, as well as intervention strategies that exploit both broad-spectrum antioxidants as well as inhibitors of specific oxidases (some of which are chemically modified fullerenes). At the end of her talk, she drew connections between the age-related increase in the risk of psychosis (e.g., under anesthesia) and the cellular changes in the aging brain.

Dugan was followed by Cynthia Kenyon, the director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at UCSF. The program now has 35 affiliated faculty, whose research ranges from clinical (e.g., breast cancer and fronto-temporal dementia) to the very fundamental (prion diseases in yeast, the cell cycle, and the unfolded protein response). She described the main mission of the Center (funding promising graduate students with a desire to focus on the biology of aging), and reviewed some of the funding recipients’ most recent work.

Getting down to brass tacks and emphasizing the real-world applications of the work, Kenyon described a brave new world in which the 40-year-old men of the future will find themselves unwittingly, but enthusiastically, hitting on 90-year-old hotties in singles bars.

(The morning session continues here.)