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A fond farewell to NIA, next steps on a global journey for geroscience

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NIA Blog Team

It has been an exhilarating run, but the time has come for both me and NIA’s Division of Aging Biology (DAB) to explore new pastures. As some of you may know, on April 30, I will be stepping down from my position as DAB director.

My tenure at NIA started in 2002 (those 18 years went by so fast!) when I joined DAB as a program officer, coming from parallel appointments at The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research in Philadelphia and the Universidad de Chile. Talk about long commutes! In 2006, I was fortunate to be chosen as director of the division after the retirement of the recently departed and beloved Dr. Huber Warner. At the time, the field was growing in new and exciting ways, thanks in no small part to the efforts of my predecessors in developing programs like the Nathan Shock Centers and the newly minted Interventions Testing Program. Through these and other programs spearheaded by DAB, the aging biology field has grown exponentially during my time at the helm, and I hope I have made my own small contribution through concepts such as healthspan, geroscience, and, more recently, molecular and cellular resilience.

The aging biology field hit two major milestones in 2013 with the simultaneous publication of a paper describing the major molecular and cellular determinants of aging — the so-called Hallmarks of Aging — and the formation of the trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group. Progress has been exponential to the extent that the basic biology of aging is being seriously considered in translational paradigms which are poised to strongly influence the health of our older adults, an outcome that would have been unthinkable 15 to 20 years ago. We have come a long way from the days when aging biology research was considered a backwaters endeavor, focusing on a biological process that some seemed to believe “we would never be able to modify.“ To that we said, and continue to say, “Ha!”

These advances represent considerable opportunities for the future, including in the challenging areas of integrated physiology, researching a possible role for artificial intelligence and systems biology, and so many others. Based on my experiences at NIA, I have no doubt that leadership will continue to make thoughtful, evidence-driven decisions moving forward, balancing multiple needs in fields as diverse as basic biology and populations behavior. This will in turn require an enormous effort from the next director of DAB, and I’m confident that person will be up to the task and will grow into the position as I did. Whoever takes this position — and I know there are many capable individuals out there — should rest assured that they can count on NIA leadership to offer them guidance and support.

So, what is on the horizon for me? Many suggested that I can comfortably retire to paint and play the guitar, but unfortunately for me, such a placid future is not compatible with my personality. My life after retirement will include consulting work as a senior advisor on an NIH Common fund activity as well as other initiatives to further promote aging biology initiatives such as geroscience.

I am looking forward to the future and wish all of my past and present colleagues at NIA and NIH the best and continued success!

Comments

Submitted by Kylie Kavanagh on April 29, 2020

Your happy demeanour will be sorely missed - you have inspired me, guided me, and all ageing-related meetings and conferences just will not be the same.
Your legacy is strong and I will miss you.

Submitted by Jonathan Wren on April 29, 2020

Thanks, Felipe, for all you've done. I only came into the field somewhat recently, but it was you who genuinely impressed upon me that we cannot really understand (non-Mendelian) disease without understanding aging.

Submitted by Tim McCaffrey on April 29, 2020

Felipe,

It has been a pleasure to know you, and work with you. Thank you for a stellar career of improving aging research. I hope this next chapter is a great one for you.

Tim

Submitted by Carlos Alpizar… on April 29, 2020

This is the new era for the study of aging. The first step was done Nathan Shock with his centers. Now Geroscience is following the right steps to know what is aging and how to solve this conundrum.

Submitted by Arlan Richardson on April 29, 2020

Felipe, best wishes for the future! I still remember the first time we met at the Gordon Conference in Italy where you presented your exciting research on a new gene that was expressed in aging liver.

Submitted by Maureen Thomas on April 29, 2020

Congrats Felipe and best wishes for your next chapter!

Submitted by Andy Samuelson on April 29, 2020

Dear Felipe,

Thank you for everything you've done for the field. As a new post-doc entering the field in 2002 to running my own laboratory today, I can attest that your efforts have helped me tremendously and are much appreciated. Wishing you all the best as you start the next chapter.

Sincerely,
Andy Samuelson

Submitted by Divaker Choubey on April 29, 2020

Many thanks for all you have done for research community in the field. I remember my conversations with you in 2003 and your generous help at that time.
Wish you a very healthy and happy retirement.

Divaker

Submitted by Zhidong Tu on April 29, 2020

Felipe, thank you for promoting geroscience research. It's no doubt one of the most important directions for aging research to go. People will remember and miss you.

Submitted by Christopher Janson on April 29, 2020

Los mejores deseos para el futuro!

Submitted by Atanu Duttaroy on April 29, 2020

Dear Felipe,
You will always be remembered for your accomplishments. Thank you for your years of hard work and dedication, and congrats on your retirement!

Submitted by Veena Prahlad on April 29, 2020

Dear Felipe,
It was always a pleasure to interact with you. Thank you! And thank you for all that you have done for the field, and personally, for your nuggets of advice. I have no doubt you will be sorely missed.

Submitted by Peter Adams on April 30, 2020

Hi Felipe - Your 18 years at NIA pretty much coincides with my acquired interesting in biology of aging. You are right, back then it seemed like a "backwater". But now, a field that everyone takes notice of and lots of translational potential! Thank you and congrats. Best,
Peter.

Submitted by Brian Chen on April 30, 2020

Felipe, it's a been an absolute honor. Your leadership in field and love of life off the field have been an inspiration to us youngsters. Hope we all still get to see you at GSA! Keep painting those doors!

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