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American Federation for Aging Research experts featured in PBS special: Incredible Aging

March 14, 2018

March 14, 2018 (New York, NY) --"Aging is the big enchilada ... if we could do something about slowing the rate of aging, it's going to change everything."

With that bold statement, Steven Austad, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), expresses the excitement surrounding advances in aging research featured in the new documentary Incredible Aging: Adding Life to Your Years, which premieres on PBS stations nationwide in March 2018. (check local listings)

Hosted by 14-time Emmy Award-winner Meredith Vieira, Incredible Aging is based on the latest scientific research on healthy aging--much of it funded by AFAR. Interviews with leading experts in biology, gerontology, neuroscience, nutrition, and medicine, coupled with animation that explains the science in a detailed but accessible way, help this fascinating program cut a path toward understanding what aging means and how the latest information can help all of us live healthier lives as we grow older.

Fourteen of the experts featured in the program are AFAR grantees and/or serve in leadership positions on the organization's board of directors. Austad, a renowned researcher and professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, served as scientific advisor on the script. In the hour-long Incredible Aging special, AFAR experts share insights on a range of advances in cutting-edge research poised to extend healthspan: from how "young blood" may protect against the ravages of aging, to how cleaning out "garbage" in cells can help people remain healthier longer, to how certain drugs have shown the potential to slow the rate of aging and delay or prevent multiple age-related diseases at once.

In segments exploring a "blueprint for healthy aging," AFAR experts also emphasize the evidence-based research behind lifestyle habits that we can easily adapt to extend health as we grow older--such as exercise, dietary choices, and the impact of social engagement on both physical and cognitive health. For example, AFAR grantee Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D. (Executive Director of Neuroscape at the University of California, San Francisco, who wrote and hosted the nationally televised PBS special The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley) lends insights on cognitive stimulation. Later, AFAR grantee Nathan LeBrasseur (Director of the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Program the Mayo Clinic's Kogod Center on Aging) explains how exercise benefits both mental and cardiovascular health."We are so pleased that PBS is providing a national platform to explore the issue of healthy aging," said Stephanie Lederman, AFAR's Executive Director. "And we are proud of the AFAR experts who share their insights in this timely and important program."

For more than 35 years, AFAR has supported the research that has built and grown the field of biomedical research on aging. That work is now being translated into exciting new interventions that can help people live healthier longer. As Vieira puts it during the program: "Much of what we know today about longer, healthier living is because of AFAR's leadership and vision in the field."

AFAR board leaders who are featured among the top researchers in Incredible Aging are:
  • Steven Austad, Ph.D, University of Alabama at Birmingham;

  • Nir Barzilai, M.D., AFAR Deputy Scientific Director, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY;

  • Richard Besdine, M.D., AFAR Medical Officer, Brown University, Providence, RI;

  • James L. Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., President-elect, AFAR Board of Directors, The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN;

  • S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D., AFAR Board Member, University of Illinois at Chicago;

  • Thomas Rando, M.D., Ph.D., AFAR Board Member, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA;

  • John F. Rowe, M.D., former AFAR Board President, Columbia University, New York, NY;

  • David Sinclair, Ph.D., AFAR Board Member, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA; and

  • Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., AFAR Board Member, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA

The documentary also features the following experts who received AFAR grants supporting their groundbreaking research:
  • Judith Campisi, Ph.D., The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, CA;

  • Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY;

  • Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco;

  • Matt Kaeberlein, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle; and

  • Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

A bonus DVD, made available as a pledge premium gift, will feature insights from all of these experts in addition to:
  • Mark S. Lachs, M.D., M.P.H., President, AFAR Board of Directors, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY; and

  • Jeremy D. Walston, M.D., Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

For more information and to watch the PBS trailer, visit AFAR's PBS Incredible Aging page. To find out when Incredible Aging airs on your local PBS station, check local listings.
About AFAR: The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to support and advance healthy aging through biomedical research. Founded in 1981, AFAR has championed the cause and supported the funding of science in healthier aging and age-related medicine. To address the shortage of physicians and researchers dedicated to the science of healthier aging, AFAR funds physicians and scientists probing the fundamental mechanisms of aging, as well as specific diseases associated with aging populations at critical points throughout their careers. Learn more at or follow AFARorg on Twitter and Facebook.

Media Contact

Jack Croft

American Federation for Aging Research

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