PARIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The 20th annual Longevity Prize of the Fondation IPSEN has been awarded to Steven N. Austad (University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA), in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the domain of the comparative biology of aging (especially the study of species resisting to aging), by an international jury led by Thomas Kirkwood (Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK). He received the €20,000 prize on November 21st, 2015 at the Gerontology Society of America (GSA) in Orlando, USA where he presented an outstanding lecture.
“Evolution is smarter than you are.” That quote from biochemist Leslie Orgel forms the basis for looking to nature for creative ways to slow the damaging processes of aging. Ironically, the laboratory animals scientists generally use to try to understand aging processes – and learn how to retard them – are demonstrably unsuccessful at combating these degenerative processes. It doesn’t take long to determine whether the researchers have succeeded in lengthening their health- and lifespan. On the other hand, methods for making an animal that normally lives 2 years survive to age 4, may not be relevant for an animal – humans – that already lives 80 years or more. A complementary approach is to scour nature for animals that nature has already given the tools to combat aging successfully and to try to discover what those tools are and how they work. Animals that are more successful than humans at resisting aging processes are abundant on earth. The research of Steven N. Austad has employed a number of such species over the years.
Dr. Austad is Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and also Scientific Director of the American Federation for Aging Research. After receiving his PhD degree from Purdue University, he accepted his first faculty position as Assistant Professor at Harvard University in 1986. He subsequently moved to the University of Idaho where he became full professor in 1997. In 2004, he joined the Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas before moving to his current position in 2014. His research encompasses many aspects of the biology of aging from the molecular to the population level. His research specialty is the identification and study of nontraditional species – particularly exceptionally long-lived species – for insight into processes of slow aging. Dr. Austad’s research has won multiple previous awards, including the Geron Corporation-Samuel Goldstein Distinguished Publication Award, the Nathan A. Shock Award, the Robert W. Kleemeier Award, the Purdue Outstanding Alumnus Award, and the Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction.
Previous laureates of the Longevity Prize
Founded in 1996, the Longevity Prize of the Fondation IPSEN has been awarded to renowned specialists: Caleb E. Finch (Los Angeles, 1996), Vaino Kannisto (Lisboa, 1997), Roy L. Walford (Los Angeles, 1998), John Morley (St Louis,1999), Paul & Margret Baltes (Berlin, 2000), Justin Congdon (Aiken, 2001), George Martin (Seattle, 2002), James Vaupel (Rostock, 2003), Linda Partridge (London, 2004), Sir Michael Marmot (London, 2005), Cynthia Kenyon (San Francisco, 2006), David Barker (Southampton, 2007), Gerald McLearn (University Park, 2008), Jacques Vallin (Paris, 2009), Judith Campisi (Novato, 2010), Tom Kirkwood (Newcastle, 2011), Linda Fried (New York, 2012), Gary Ruvkun (Boston, 2013), Luigi Ferrucci (Baltimore, 2014).
The jury members of the Longevity Prize
Thomas Kirkwood (Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK), President
Judith Campisi (Buck Institute for Research on Ageing, Novato, USA), Eileen Crimmins (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Caleb Finch (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Bernard Jeune (Odense Universitet, Odense, Denmark), George Martin (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), Jean-Marie Robine (INSERM, Démographie et Santé, Montpellier, France), Bruno Vellas (Hôpital Purpan, Toulouse, France) and a Fondation IPSEN representative.
About the Fondation IPSEN
Established in 1983 under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the mission of the Fondation IPSEN is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge. The long-standing action of the Fondation IPSEN aims at fostering the interaction between researchers and clinical practitioners, which is essential due to the extreme specialization of these professions. The ambition of the Fondation IPSEN is to initiate a reflection about the major scientific issues of the forthcoming years. It has developed an important international network of scientific experts who meet regularly at meetings known as Colloques Médecine et Recherche, dedicated to six main themes: Alzheimer's disease, neurosciences, longevity, endocrinology, the vascular system and cancer science. Moreover the Fondation IPSEN has started since 2007 several meetings in partnership with the Salk Institute, the Karolinska Institutet, the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Days of Molecular Medicine Global Foundation as well as with the science journals Nature, Cell and Science. The Fondation IPSEN produced several hundred publications; more than 250 scientists and biomedical researchers have been awarded prizes and research grants.