At the conclusion of the 2013 Summit on “Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Healthspan and Chronic Disease,” several participants asked me if this was to be a yearly event. It would certainly be nice if we could do that, but we committed our staff and resources to tangible outcomes from the first summit and that was a two-year-long effort. Now I’m very pleased to announce that the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) and partners will host its second summit in 2016. The “Disease Drivers of Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience Summit” will take place on April 13–14 at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.
The goal of the 2013 meeting was to introduce the concepts of geroscience to the community and to discuss what we called the “major pillars of aging” and their possible role as mechanistic drivers of aging, which is the major risk factor for most chronic diseases. The summit resulted in hours of discussion on many topics, the publication of a white paper on geroscience, and numerous presentations at multiple venues over the past two years. The major recommendations from the summit were published in 2014 as a special supplement to the Journal of Gerontology Series A.
Two further outcomes of the first summit, with commitments of money to support research in geroscience, are RFA-AG-15-004 on “Epigenetic Analyses of Aging as a Risk Factor for Multiple Chronic Conditions” and RFA-AG-16-020 to study the “Impact of Aging on Currently Employed Animal Models of Disease and Chronic Conditions.”
Taking the next step
So, what happens next? Members of the Geroscience Interest Group from the NIH, with essential collaboration and support from the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Federation for Aging Research, and the Gerontological Society of America, have developed a theme and program for a second geroscience summit requested by the research community.
Of course, revisiting the same subjects may not be the most creative way to capitalize on the interest generated by the first summit. At this meeting, we will focus on the opposite side of the coin: While aging is certainly the major risk factor for chronic diseases, some chronic diseases are in turn a major risk factor for accelerated aging.
We made an executive decision to focus only on three chronic diseases: cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes. The choice was driven by the amount of available data documenting the deleterious effects of these diseases (and sometimes their treatments) on the pace and frequency of age-related physical decline and disease. The epidemiological data are well established, so the 2016 summit will focus on the molecular and cellular underpinnings that connect these diseases with the major pillars of aging.
Conference details available now
Conference sessions will combine basic, translational, and clinical researchers in a format of short, focused talks centered on critical open research questions, along with interactive panel discussions. We have an impressive list of first-class scientists to moderate and participate in these sessions. At the meeting’s conclusion, participants will identify the knowledge gaps and future directions of research needed for a better understanding of the relationship between chronic diseases and aging.
Information on registration, travel, and lodging is available. Deadlines to note are February 11 for abstracts for the “Hot Topics Talks” and March 1 for early-bird registration.
I hope that all researchers with an interest in aging, geroscience, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS will take advantage of this opportunity to discuss the details of how these conditions interact with each other. I look forward to seeing you in April in New York.