“Life expectancy is ballooning just as science and technology are on the cusp of solving many of the practical problems of aging. What if we could not only have added years but spend them being physically fit, mentally sharp, functionally independent, and financially secure? At that point, we no longer have a story about old age. We have a story about long life.”
– Laura L. Carstensen, A Long Bright Future
In less than one century, life expectancy has increased by an average of 30 years in developed regions of the world. Quite suddenly, there are more people living longer in the world than ever before in human history and they are accounting for an increasingly greater percentage of the world population. Improved longevity is, at once, among the most remarkable achievements in all of human history and one of our greatest challenges. These added years can be a gift or a burden to humanity depending upon how they are used.
The mission of the Stanford Center on Longevity is to redesign long life. The Center studies the nature and development of the human life span, looking for innovative ways to use science and technology to solve the problems of people over 50 by improving the well-being of people of all ages.
Meeting these challenges includes changing our public policies as well as personal behavior. Redesigning long life means appreciating the unique challenges of aging, as well as the great value older people contribute to a society.
The Center aims to use increased life expectancy to bring about profound advances in the quality of life from early childhood to old age. To inspire change of this scale, the Center works with academic experts, business leaders and policy makers to target important challenges and opportunities for aging societies. By fostering dialogue and collaboration among these typically disconnected worlds, the Center aims to develop workable solutions to urgent issues confronting the world as the population ages.
Over 140 Stanford faculty members are Center affiliates. Their research foci include a broad range of topics, including behavioral economics and decision making, age-related changes in cognition, assistive robotics, the potential of stem cells, and technology developments that reduce cost and improve healthcare delivery.
The Center was founded by two of the world’s leading authorities on longevity and aging. Laura Carstensen PhD, is the founding director. A professor of psychology at Stanford, she has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her research has been supported for more than 20 years by the National Institute on Aging. Thomas Rando MD, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, is deputy director. His research on aging has demonstrated that is possible to identify biochemical stimuli that can induce stem cells in old tissues to repair injuries as effectively as in young tissues. This work has broad implications for the fields of regenerative medicine and stem cell transplantation.