Ronald A. Kohanski, Ph.D., is the director of the Division of Aging Biology (DAB) at the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Kohanski obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry with Robert L. Heinrikson at the University of Chicago in 1981. After a postdoctoral fellowship with M. Daniel Lane at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he held a faculty position at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine before returning as a faculty member at Johns Hopkins. His fields of research included enzymology and developmental biology of the insulin receptor. Dr. Kohanski joined the NIA Division of Aging Biology in 2005 as a program officer and became division deputy director in 2007.
He promotes research in all areas of the biology of aging, covering basic, applied and translational research through the diverse portfolios managed by DAB program officers. A long-standing principle of DAB, dating back 30 years to NIA’s Longevity Assurance Genes funding opportunities, is to bring to the forefront the rate of aging as a guiding principle. This is based on the fundamental metric of lifespan and the influence of genetic, environmental, dietary, and pharmaceutical manipulations that later lifespan and health at older ages.
For several years, Dr. Kohanski has been a proponent for studies using heterochronic parabiosis and heterochronic blood exchange, which demonstrate the abilities of older animals to respond to “youthful signals” and are part of a broader program on regenerative biology and medicine. In addition, he has had a special interest in systems biology and signatures of aging as means to understand functional decline and the heterogeneity of aging. Dr. Kohanski strives to support expansion of research in the basic biology of aging in human populations, with special attention to health disparities.
Dr. Kohanski also is a co-founder and the current leader of the trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG). Initiated a decade ago by his predecessor Dr. Felipe Sierra, GSIG includes program officers from most NIH Institutes and Centers. Geroscience is an emerging scientific field built on the hypothesis that slowing the rate of aging will delay the onset and reduce the severity of chronic disease and dysfunction that occur late in adult life.