The Buck Institute in Nature

There’s a nice writeup of the Buck Institute for Age Research in the most recent issue of Nature (article|DOI). The piece covers some of the Buck’s history and also a series of recent triumphs…

In 2005, the agency named the Buck as one of five national Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. And in September, it gave the institute US$25 million to create a new ‘interdiscipline’ called geroscience: defined as the study of connections between ageing and age-related disease. Now, the Buck is embarking on a growth spurt that will add 10 labs in 3–4 years. Plans have been drawn up for a long-term goal of three new buildings on its sunny hilltop campus and 20 more investigators, bringing the total number of labs to 45. … To Hughes and his colleagues at the Buck, the new geroscience grant offers a means to turn that idea into reality. “The essential thing that will come from this grant is speed,” says Lithgow. The geroscience grant enables risky work that, by and large, will fail. But in a few cases, it might succeed, leapfrogging years of painstaking studies and hitting pay dirt much faster.”

…as well as a description of some of the challenges confronting the Institute:

But the expansion will depend on funding, which, despite recent votes of confidence from the NIH, may be hard won. Peers in research on ageing see the Buck as a pioneer, testing the links between ageing and disease. … The geroscience grant is a boon for the Buck’s brand of high-risk research. But it does not guarantee success. The Buck is up against a few obstacles — for example, it must adhere to numerous building restrictions, limiting the potential for expansion. And although its location is idyllic, Marin County is isolated; the nearest universities, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco, are both 50 kilometres away.

Overall it’s a fair and informative piece, so if you’ve been wondering what they’ve been getting up to in Novato, it’s well worth a read.

UPDATE 11/29/2007: On or around Tuesday, December 4th there will be a story about the Buck on KQED’s morning talk show, Forum. I’ll post when I’m sure about the details.