8/30/2012 – Marsh & McLennan Companies Partners with Stanford Center on Longevity to Foster Lifetime Financial Security Preparedness

Jeremy Lehrman, Marsh & McLennan Companies +1 212 345 9775 [email protected]

Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, Stanford Center on Longevity +1 650 736 9085 [email protected]

NEW YORK, August 30, 2012 — Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm providing advice and solutions in risk, strategy and human capital, and the Stanford Center on Longevity, a research center at Stanford University, today announced that the two organizations will collaborate to raise awareness and preparedness around lifetime financial security. As part of its previously announced commitment to fund retirement policy exploration, Marsh & McLennan Companies will contribute $1.5 million through 2013 to support the Stanford Center on Longevity’s studies and activities related to financial security.

“Marsh & McLennan Companies is eager to advance awareness and education around issues related to retirement and aging populations. Two aspects of those issues—increased longevity and financial security—are top of mind for governments, businesses and individuals,” said Brian Duperreault, President and CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies. “Through our Company’s support of the Stanford Center on Longevity, we will take part in forward-looking dialogue on these issues and work to be a catalyst for new ideas and perspectives that benefit the greater good of the aging population and of future generations,” Mr. Duperreault concluded.

“It is a privilege for the Stanford Center on Longevity to receive this support for our programs from Marsh & McLennan Companies,” said Laura Carstensen, Founding Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. “Our Center aims to connect with the best thinkers, business leaders and policy makers, and we look forward to the insights Marsh & McLennan Companies will provide based on its deep expertise in risk, strategy and human capital.”

Michele Burns, who previously served as Chairman and CEO of Mercer, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, and was named to lead Marsh & McLennan Companies’ retirement policy center exploration last year, will serve as Center Fellow and Strategic Advisor to the Stanford Center on Longevity. She will join Founding Director Laura Carstensen, PhD and Deputy Director Thomas Rando, MD, PhD in providing strategic guidance for the overall efforts of the Center and development of the Financial Security Division of the Center.

“In exploring how Marsh & McLennan Companies could have the greatest impact in the retirement policy arena, the Stanford Center on Longevity emerged as an excellent partner,” said Michele Burns. “The Center brings a unique perspective to issues facing our society by rethinking the perceived problems around an aging population—challenges such as retirement planning and the need to work longer—and finding value in the opportunities these challenges present.

“The Center’s Financial Security Division, in collaboration with Marsh & McLennan Companies, will examine these issues from multiple perspectives, ranging from individual financial capability, the changing nature and role of work, common financial pitfalls such as fraud, and the resulting key policy issues. The goal is to help drive the dialogue forward in order to facilitate a healthier state of long-term financial security—both for the individual and society. I am very proud to work with the Stanford Center on Longevity on these issues and to contribute to solutions that can make a difference for us all,” Ms. Burns concluded.

The two organizations recently collaborated on a conference that brought together contributors from business, academia and government to address retirement planning in the age of longevity. The insights discussed at the conference are being used to inform the Stanford Center on Longevity’s financial security agenda as well as recommendations for future policy and research. The Center’s Financial Security Division will also launch an expanded web presence this fall that will highlight the Division’s work and will also serve as an information resource for key stakeholders.

• To learn more about the Center’s Financial Security Division, visit https://longevity.stanford.edu/blog/2012/06/a-collaboration-on-financial-security/.

About Marsh & McLennan Companies

MARSH & McLENNAN COMPANIES (NYSE: MMC) is a global team of professional services companies offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and human capital. Marsh is a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter is a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; Mercer is a global leader in human resource consulting and related services; and Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. Marsh & McLennan Companies’ 53,000 colleagues worldwide provide analysis, advice and transactional capabilities to clients in more than 100 countries. The Company prides itself on being a responsible corporate citizen and making a positive impact in the communities in which it operates. Visit www.mmc.com for more information.

About the Stanford Center on Longevity

The mission of the Stanford Center on Longevity (https://longevity.stanford.edu/) 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 and improve the well-being of people of all ages. Meeting these challenges includes changing 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 brings together experts from academia, business and government to target important challenges and opportunities for older people. It works to make sure that research findings are not shared only in scholarly journals, but reach policymakers, business leaders, and others who will use them to improve our society.

Nearly 140 Stanford faculty members are Center affiliates. Their research ranges from developing healthy nutritional habits and building assistive robots, to pursuing stem cell research and improving health care delivery. The Center’s research projects are designed to provide information to policymakers and business leaders, and bring them together with the research community. By fostering dialogue among these typically disconnected worlds, the Center aims to develop workable solutions to urgent issues confronting America as our population ages.

7/29/10 – New Realities Await U.S. as Boomers Begin to Turn 65

FOR RELEASE: Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stanford, CA – The challenges of baby boomers reaching old age, combined with a growing, more diverse population, will drive major changes, challenges and decisions in U.S. families, workplaces and communities, according to NEW REALITIES of an OLDER AMERICA: Challenges, Changes and Questions, a report released today by the Stanford Center on Longevity.

The implications concern the entire society – young and old alike. Even though many of these changes could have been anticipated, the United States has continued to rely on social and economic policies and practices that were designed for a more youthful population. NEW REALITIES of an OLDER AMERICA frames the critical issues and underscores the urgency of effectively addressing the anticipated challenges with relevant public policies.

NEW REALITIES is a compendium that brings together the latest statistics from a range of sources, including academic research and government statistics; uses clear, engaging graphics; and asks provocative questions about impending changes.

The shift toward an older population has enormous economic, social and political implications for Americans of all ages. Key findings include:

• As people live longer and healthier lives, our culture must create new opportunities for individual and societal contributions across all ages.

• The number of older people (age 65 and over) will double over the next 30 years, from 40 million to 80 million, and the percentage of older people in the population will increase from 13% to 20%.

• By 2032, there will be more people 65 or older than children under 15.

• By the time the youngest baby boomers turn 65 in 2029, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. The percentage of 85-year-olds will grow even faster.

• If retirement is not delayed there will be fewer and fewer potential workers per retiree. Longer working lives, in contrast, would make use of the most educated older population in the history of the country.

• Without policy and behavioral changes, the fiscal burden on individual workers and taxpayers will skyrocket.

• Unless people work longer, the personal financial burden also will increase as people reach older ages.

• Population aging will affect younger Americans as well. Their economic prospects and future tax burdens depend on how effectively today’s policy makers prepare.

• Suburbs, designed for traditional nuclear families, increasingly will be home to singles and older couples.

• Diversity will increase among older people, with minorities accounting for 60% of the growth among those 65 or older.

“These unprecedented demographic developments require urgent action. A deep understanding of the issues is required in order for societies to deal effectively with new realities,” said Laura L. Carstensen PhD, director of the Center on Longevity. “In less than one century, life expectancy increased by an average of 30 years in developed regions of the world. NEW REALITIES of an OLDER AMERICA shows how this added longevity signifies both a remarkable achievement and a great challenge.”

NEW REALITIES provides an overview, a framework for thinking about each trend, and comparative perspectives on changes over time and across age groups. This comparative perspective raises many questions about how these changes might unfold in unexpected ways.

“Soon, our nation will have more old people than children,” said Adele M. Hayutin PhD, senior research scholar and director of the Center’s Global Aging Program, which developed the report. “Our economic prospects depend, in large measure, on how well our leaders – in government, business and communities across the nation – incorporate these tremendous population shifts into their policies and business plans.”

NEW REALITIES of an OLDER AMERICA is available online. View report >>>

About the Stanford Center on Longevity
The Stanford Center on Longevity is working to transform the culture of human aging. The Center studies the nature and development of the entire human life span, looking for innovative ways to use science and technology to solve the problems of people over 50 and improve the well-being of people of all ages. To inspire change of this scale, the Center brings together the best minds in academia, business and government to target the most important challenges and solutions for older populations.

Adele Hayutin
Director, Global Aging Program
[email protected]
(650) 736-9083

6/14/10 – Longevity Center Selected to Explore Music, Memory and Aging Links

The Stanford Center on Longevity, which studies the nature and development of the entire human life span, will examine the possibility of using music to improve memory in older adults.

The Center on Longevity, along with the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, has been selected to receive a Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SiCa) grant to convene an interdisciplinary conference in Fall 2010 to establish a collaborative research agenda.

Virtually everyone experiences memory decline with age. Alzheimer’s disease and clinical dementia are the most severe forms of this decline, although subtler versions of decline also come with age, including poorer recall and degraded working memory. But the relationship between music, memory and aging has received relatively little attention.

The Center on Longevity looks for innovative ways to use science and technology to solve the problems of people over 50 and improve the well-being of people of all ages. Laura L. Carstensen PhD, director of the Center on Longevity, and Jonathan Berger, CCRMA co-director and professor of music, will lead an effort to identify how such a link might occur and how it might be used to improve memory in older adults.

“Almost everyone has experienced an uncanny recollection of the lyrics from a song from childhood, even when they have trouble remembering other details. We teach children ‘The Alphabet Song’ to help them remember their ABCs,” said Dr. Carstensen, who is Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy and professor of psychology at Stanford. “We need to know more about the ways that music may facilitate learning and memory at later ages.”

The two centers will bring together about 20 faculty, from Stanford and other universities, who represent a range of disciplines spanning the humanities, social sciences, medicine, engineering and business. The meeting, in coordination with the 2010-2011 campus-wide Memory arts theme, will be a guided discussion of important questions related to aging, memory and music and their interaction with our culture.

3/17/10 – Myths and Realities of an Aging Society

“Looking Forward to an Aging America: Myths and Realities” was the topic as John W. (Jack) Rowe MD, an expert on health care economics and healthy aging, delivered the inaugural Stanford Center on Longevity Distinguished Lecture. In an insightful lecture encompassing policy choices, predictors of disability and the significance of Whistler’s Mother’s age, Dr. Rowe discussed the importance of preparing for a society with more walkers than strollers.

The Center on Longevity created the lecture series to spotlight the changes, challenges and opportunities of a rapidly aging population. The inaugural lecture was April 13.

Rowe, who chairs the Center’s advisory council, is professor of health policy and management at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and former CEO of Aetna Inc. He is co-author of Successful Aging, which describes the choices, programs and policies that enable older people to stay strong mentally and physically. He leads the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on An Aging Society, is a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received an MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and BS from Canisius College.

<img src="https://longevity.stanford.edu/files2/video_2.jpg"   VIDEO    Watch entire lecture >>>

<img src="https://longevity.stanford.edu/files2/podcast_0.jpg"  PODCAST

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Read press coverage – Los Altos Town Crier: Stanford Longevity series dispels myths, misconceptions

5/13/09 – SCL Releases New Findings About Voter Attitudes on Health Care Reform

Voters willing to engage in discussion about trade-offs


STANFORD, CA—Americans want answers to tough questions about the trade-offs involved in health care reform, according to new data released today by the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL).

The findings are the result of a unique, bipartisan project that spanned nearly two years and united the typically disconnected worlds of politics, academia and the public.

“As lawmakers are preparing large-scale legislation with the goal of improving health care in our country, it is critical that leaders engage the public in an intelligent discussion about the options for change and what they mean both for individuals and for the system broadly,” said Dr. Laura Carstensen, SCL Director.

“The degree of conversation we’ve been having about the existing problems with the system must be mirrored with conversation about solutions to those problems. There is anxiety among the public about changes to their health care, which necessitates building public support for proposed changes to the system if they are to be successful.”

The project in brief: SCL worked with a group of distinguished health economists and political experts to identify six policy proposals designed to improve access and reduce cost, and then guided more than 2,000 voters through a comprehensive, balanced discussion about each proposal, including the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The unique approach: The project makes a distinct contribution to the national conversation about health care reform by placing different health care proposals in real context for voters. Voter viewpoints about each policy were measured not in the abstract as simply “pro” or “con”, but instead, in terms of the tradeoffs and compromises entailed in pursuing various reforms.

The ongoing discussion: SCL is posting the survey on its web site so interested voters, policymakers or advocates can access it as an aid for discussion and as a way to better understand the concerns of constituencies.


• While voters rate health reform as a very high priority, they do not form a consensus around any one of the six proposals, expressing instead ambivalence as they weight the tradeoffs involved in the implementation of each. Notably, none of the six proposals are clearly rejected outright either. Instead the findings reflect voters’ willingness to engage in a serious and substantive way on the topic of health care reform and their desire for more detailed information about the relative pros and cons of various reform proposals;

• The findings also reveal that voters’ reactions to various health care proposals are heavily tied to political party affiliation. In particular, Democrats show a real willingness to support proposals designed to expand access to health care. Voters across the partisanship spectrum–Democrats, Republicans and Independents—share strong concerns about health care costs;

• While 62 percent of Americans feel the health care system works well for them, 68 percent believe it does not work well for most Americans;

• 58 percent of Americans are not satisfied with cost and affordability of health care, but 50 percent are satisfied with the quality.


The Stanford Center on Longevity is transforming the culture of human aging using science, technology. In less than one century, life expectancy increased by an average of 30 years in developed regions of the world. Combined with a reduction in fertility rates across the same period, the changes in age distribution now under way in the population – both nationally and internationally – are dramatic and unprecedented. Added years can be a gift or a burden to humanity depending upon how they are used. The aim of the Center is to use increased life expectancy to bring about profound advances in the quality of life from early childhood to old age.

For more information, please visit https://longevity.stanford.edu

5/5/09 – Cognitive and Brain Experts Urge Consumer Caution on Memory Fitness Products

Tips for navigating the marketplace of memory aids


CONTACT: Gayle Osterberg, 202-548-0133

May 5, 2009

STANFORD, CA — The Stanford Center on Longevity today on behalf of 30 of the world’s finest cognitive and brain scientists released a statement providing public guidance on products claiming to improve mental fitness and the science behind them. (DOWNLOAD STATEMENT)

A gathering of the world’s top cognitive scientists first convened in April 2008 for the “Expert Consensus on Brain Health” summit sponsored by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. The goal was to develop a consensus statement for the public regarding the science behind products claiming to defend against memory loss.

The statement has been under development during the past year and is readied just as public attention will be heightened on the issue of mental health with the broadcast of a new documentary series on HBO focusing on Alzheimer’s disease.

“Fear of memory loss, mental impairment and Alzheimer’s disease lead many consumers to search for products – from supplements to software – that claim to ward off such ailments,” Carstensen said. “Such products are becoming more prolific, but this burgeoning industry is completely unregulated and the claims can range from reasonable though untested, to blatantly false. It is important for consumers to proceed with caution before buying into many of these product claims. There is no magic bullet solution for cognitive decline.”

The Summit’s statement points out that “it would be wrong to conclude that nothing can be done to improve mental fitness.” But goes on to “strongly encourage research that compares the efficacy and the cost-effectiveness of different approaches to maintaining cognitive fitness.”


• There is reason for optimism. Cognitive performance in many older adults appears to be improving over historical time. For example, a recent study with a national U.S. sample, found that older people today show less cognitive impairment than earlier cohorts. The fact that so many people do perform well in old age and can learn new skills also shows that positive outcomes are possible. Researchers are attempting to identify factors that contribute to both low and high performance.

Although based on plausible biochemical reasoning, to date, clinical research has produced no evidence that dietary supplements such as Gingko biloba enhance cognitive performance or reduce the rate of cognitive loss. Few dietary supplements have been subjected to large randomized controlled trials that have been published in leading journals. We encourage more investigation into potential effects of dietary supplements.

Software-based cognitive training and brain games have been shown to improve users’ performance on trained tasks. The important caveat is that very few training programs have shown evidence that such gains translate into improved performance in the complex realm of everyday life. A program might train you to memorize lists of words, for example, but this particular skill is not likely to help you remember where you left your car keys or the time of an upcoming appointment. We strongly support research on software based training and encourage interested people to participate in clinical trials investigating its potential.

Consumers should look for products that can substantiate their claims with evidence from research. A study conducted and reported by a company that has not been independently verified has limited value; consumers should look for further studies that have been published in peer reviewed journals. This means that the study design and results have been reviewed by multiple experts. If the study also has been conducted by independent researchers, has been replicated at multiple sites and has been funded by independent sources, these factors add to the credence of the study results. We encourage more independent research on potentially promising intervention techniques and on existing products on the market.

Be leery of anyone who claims to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or pre-dementia. Any such products would need FDA approval to properly make such claims, and no currently available products have obtained approval. There is no evidence that software products on the market or any other cognitive or social interventions available today can delay or prevent disease. On the other hand, taking good care of your health, especially blood pressure and blood sugar, can aid cognitive performance.

Understand that there is a difference between short-term improvements and changes in long-term trajectories. If your goal is to improve your chances of remembering peoples’ names at an upcoming party, there are many proven ways to do this. However, no intervention to date has shown that once undertaken it can reduce the rate of cognitive decline over several years or decades.

Learning stimulates the brain and contributes to one’s general sense of competence. However, there is no evidence that any particular formal training or practice regime is required. Before settling on a particular method and investing time and sometimes money in a particular product, consumers need to consider hidden costs beyond dollars and cents: every hour spent doing solo software drills is an hour not spent hiking, learning Italian, making a new recipe, or playing with your grandchildren. Other avenues for cognitive enhancement, such as participating in your community and exploring your passions may also stimulate your mind while producing socially meaningful outcomes.

Physical exercise is not only a low-cost and effective way to improve your health but also an important key to improving brain fitness. Scientists have found that regular aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and helps to support formation of new neural and vascular connections. Physical exercise has been shown to improve attention, reasoning and components of memory. We view exercise as a promising approach to cognitive improvement and endorse continuing independent research in that area.


The Stanford Center on Longevity is transforming the culture of human aging using science and technology. In less than one century, life expectancy increased by an average of 30 years in developed regions of the world. Combined with a reduction in fertility rates across the same period, the changes in age distribution now under way in the population – both nationally and internationally – are dramatic and unprecedented. Added years can be a gift or a burden to humanity depending upon how they are used. The aim of the Center is to use increased life expectancy to bring about profound advances in the quality of life from early childhood to old age.

For more information, please visit http:longevity.stanford.edu

11/21/08 – New MacArthur research network to examine impact of aging society

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is creating a new inter-disciplinary research network to help America prepare for the challenges and opportunities posed by our aging society.

Washington, DC, November 21, 2008 – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is creating a new inter-disciplinary research network to help America prepare for the challenges and opportunities posed by our aging society. In the middle of the next decade, the United States will become an aging society, one feature of which is that those over age 60 will outnumber those under age 15. Although the nation will become increasingly gray in subsequent decades, we are not well prepared to deal with the myriad consequences of this impending reality.

“By 2050, American society may well have more walkers than strollers,” said MacArthur Vice President Julia Stasch, who announced the Network in remarks at The Gerontological Society of America’s annual scientific meeting. “This new research network will address the broad social implications of this uncharted demographic territory, examining questions like: how can a large, longer-living, elderly population maintain its productivity and contribute to its well-being – and society’s? How will it change our economy, our culture, our politics? Over time, will America look better, worse, or just different? And how can public policies — in immigration, work force development, health care, and others — and reform of our civic institutions affect our future in a positive direction?”

The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society, supported by a three-year, $3.9 million MacArthur grant, will be chaired by Dr. John Rowe, Professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and former CEO of Aetna. In the 1990s, Rowe chaired MacArthur’s Network on Successful Aging, which found that most of the factors that predict successful aging are not solely genetic but at least equally related to lifestyle. The Network published a best-selling book, Successful Aging.

“Much prior work in this area has focused on the economic implications of the looming demographic transition, including the increasing burden of entitlements,” said Rowe. “The new Network will supplement these efforts by exploring the substantial opportunities that may be derived by harnessing the wisdom and energy of the elderly in new organizations and arrangements that provide them with meaningful roles and yield economic, social, behavioral, and health benefits for them and other generations.”

Early next year, the Network will present new U.S. population and mortality projections based on emerging evidence and will compare these to current government forecasts. The projections will forecast mortality under scenarios that take account of advances in bio-gerontology with its life-extending potential and the effects of unhealthy life conditions. Such projections have major implications for the development of social, economic, and health policy.

Drawing on the collective expertise of its members, the Network will examine the potential benefits of remodeling the distribution of key activities, including education, work, and leisure, across the life course. Research and projects will focus on three themes:

• the positive and negative impact of key intergenerational issues on families and society;
• the development of meaningful roles for older people; and
• the potential effects that the various sources of diversity and inequalities may have on the structure, economy, and overall health of an aging society.

The Network’s members represent a wide range of disciplines, including gerontology, psychology and health behavior, macroeconomics and public policy, social epidemiology, cognitive neuroscience, demography, and aging policy. In addition to Dr. Rowe, members of the Network are Dr. Lisa Berkman, Director, Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard University; Dr. Robert Binstock, Professor of Aging, Health, and Society, Case Western Reserve University; Dr. Axel Börsch-Supan, Director, Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging, University of Mannheim, Germany; Dr. John T. Cacioppo, Professor and Director, Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, The University of Chicago; Dr. Laura L. Carstensen, Professor of Psychology and Director, Stanford Center on Longevity, Stanford University; Dr. Linda Fried, Dean and DeLamar Professor of Public Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Dr. Dana Goldman, Director, Health Economics, Finance, and Organization, RAND; Dr. James S. Jackson, Director, Institute for Social Research and Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan; Dr. Martin Kohli, Professor of Sociology, European University Institute, Florence, Italy; Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, Professor, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Mr. John Rother, Executive Vice President for Policy and Strategy, AARP.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. More information is available at www.macfound.org.

Press contact: Andy Solomon, (312) 726-8000, [email protected]

11/12/07 – "Grumpy Old Men No More"

San Francisco, CA – Dr. Laura Carstensen, described as “one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the social psychology of aging,” outlined today her groundbreaking research debunking negative stereotypes about the emotional health of older people. She was speaking at the 60th Annual GSA Scientific Meeting in San Francisco. Carstensen, who is the founding Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), spoke about the broad emotional experience of older people, including what she has termed the “positivity effect”, which finds that people tend to get happier as they get older. Such emotional positivity can impact the overall quality of life of older people, including the cognitive abilities of attention and memory.

“If we rise to the challenge of an aging population by systematically applying science and technology to questions that improve quality of life in adulthood and old age, longer-lived populations will inspire breakthroughs in the social, physical, and biological sciences that will improve the quality of life at all ages,” said Carstensen.

Carstensen, was inspired to enter the field of psychology and to study aging after an extended stay in the hospital at 20 years old allowed her to observe first-hand the treatment and behavior of older people. She was the subject of a recent profile in Forbes magazine.

In 2006, Carstensen established the Stanford Center on Longevity with a mission to transform the culture of aging by combining scientific and technological discoveries with swift entrepreneurial action. The SCL links the top scholars in their fields with government, business and the media to focus on practical solutions for maintaining physical fitness, improving memory and thinking, and using technology to improve savings and health care.

Carstensen is now working on a wide range of projects designed to bring urgently needed change. Under her direction, the SCL is producing both a number of technological innovations and policy prescriptions related to issues of mobility, cognition and financial well being, but also how we are connected to each other and how we want to look.

To learn more about the Stanford Center on Longevity or Laura Carstensen, please visit the Center’s website at longevity.stanford.edu or contact Katie Merrill at 510 883-9780.

11/5/07 – Global Aging: The New New Thing – The Big Picture of Population Change in Asia

Adele Hayutin of Stanford Center on Longevity Speaks at Gerontological Society of America Meeting

San Francisco, CA – Dr. Adele Hayutin, Director of the Global Aging Program at the Stanford Center on Longevity, addressed the 60th Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America today on the topic of population change in Asia. Her speech on “Asia’s Successive Age Waves” highlighted the divergent aging patterns in Asia and the economic and policy challenges and opportunities stemming from these successive age waves. In her speech, Hayutin focused on the economic impacts of rapid aging in Japan, China and South Korea and the divergent demographic outcomes in China and India.

“The potentially profound outcomes from global demographic shifts are most evident in Asia,” Hayutin said in her remarks. “The aging of populations across Asia is already straining the social safety nets of many countries. Slower workforce growth and increasing urbanization will further increase the burden of aging, and the predominance of young adults in many countries will threaten political stability. If ignored, these trends could result in politically and economically tragic consequences on a global scale.”

Dr. Hayutin, who is a Senior Research Scholar and Director of the Global Aging Program at the Stanford Center on Longevity (SLC), has developed a comparative international perspective highlighting surprising demographic differences across countries and illustrating the unexpected speed of critical demographic trends. During her twenty-year career as a business economist, Hayutin focused on issues and trends affecting business investment strategy. Her recent focus has turned to the economic and policy implications of global demographic change.

The Global Aging Program at the Stanford Center on Longevity addresses the risks and opportunities of population aging and the impacts on global economics, sustainability, and U.S. national security interests. The goal of the Stanford Center on Longevity is to transform the culture of aging by combining scientific and technological discoveries with swift entrepreneurial action. The SCL links the top scholars in their fields with government, business and the media to focus on practical solutions for maintaining physical fitness, improving memory and thinking, and using technology to improve savings and health care. The SCL is producing both a number of technological innovations and policy prescriptions related to issues of mobility, cognition and financial well being, but also how we are connected to each other and how we want to look.

View videos from the GSA 2007 Annual Meeting

9/1/07 – The chemical misfire that undermines healing in older people

SCL Deputy Director Rando’s work with stem cells unravels the mysteries of why people heal less efficiently as they get older

STANFORD – As we age, our bodies’ ability to repair injuries and wounds degrades. Not only does the same type of wound simply take longer to heal in older people than younger people, but the wounds tend to build up more scar tissue and adhesions.

In a novel and exciting series of experiments, Stanford Center on Longevity Deputy Director Thomas Rando and his team are rapidly advancing medicine’s understanding of this phenomenon by deconstructing the complex chemical symphony that orchestrates healing. Publishing in the August 10 issue of Science, Dr. Rando reports that his team has found a misfiring chemical signal that appears to prompt otherwise healthy cells to make the wrong kind of repairs. “The hope is that we may be able to turn those bad instructions off, and help older people heal more efficiently by making sure their cells are receiving the proper instructions,” explains Dr. Rando, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Here’s what’s going on: Adult stem cells exist in many kinds of tissues and organs and serve as a sort of building block cell that can develop into the kind of tissue required to repair damage. Stem cells in the skin can develop into healthy skin cells, for example, while stem cells in muscle can become muscle cells. However, in order for the body to repair an injury to a tissue such as occurs from trauma or a surgical incision, the stem cells must receive the appropriate signals from the surrounding damaged tissue. Some of those signals come from cells of the immune system that move into damage to help clear away debris from dying cells. Other signals come from uninjured cells in the tissue. When the stem cells sense these signals, they go through a precise series of processes, including dividing many times in order to generate enough cells that will be necessary to replace the cells that were lost.

Dr. Rando’s research has identified a protein called “Wnt” (pronounced “wint”) that appears to have a profound effect of stem cell function. Wnt is a protein that binds to cells and initiates a chemical signaling system that acts on embryonic stem cells, or cells in a developing fetus, and directs them to become different organs and tissues. Extrapolating from this research, it appears that, in older people, the Wnt pathway in essence shorts out and misdirects stem cells in muscle tissue called satellite cells to become cells called fibroblasts, which make scar tissue. Still unclear is whether the protein is just produced locally in the damaged tissue, or whether it is a hormone-like molecule that circulates in the bloodstream. Although Dr. Rando’s research focused on the repair of acute trauma to muscles, he suspects that the same sort of problem arises on a lesser scale in repairing damage that results from the normal wear and tear of aging.

There is hope that a drug that blocks the misbehaving Wnt pathway could boost the ability of older people to heal faster and better from muscle injuries, Dr. Rando says. There is also reason to believe that the same strategy could help boost the repair of tissues such as skin, gut, bone marrow and epithelium, as well as organs including the liver.

For some time, scientists theorized that stem cells “aged” as we do, and became less potent. However, Dr. Rando made news last year when his team performed a fascinating experiment in which he surgically attached the circulatory system of an old mouse and a young mouse, and showed that the old mouse’s stem cells functioned far better when they were literally exposed to young blood. “By sitting in an ‘old’ environment, the stem cells were in deep hibernation, but when exposed to the young blood they responded very well,” Dr. Rando explains.

“Originally,” he continues, “our excitement was around the question: What’s the great stuff in the young blood?” However, when he attempted to investigate the opposite question of whether the young mice healed less well when they were infused with the older mice’s blood, the next level of experiments showed that the problem was actually a suppressive activity in the older mice’s blood. “The ‘old blood’ environment makes the stem cells turn into fibroblasts, or cells that make connective tissue, rather than healthy muscle cells,” Dr. Rando explains. Further research revealed the connection to the Wnt pathway.

“What we consider minor physical injuries to our bodies when we’re young take on new dimensions as we age,” notes Laura L. Carstensen, PhD, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. “There was a time when people simply shrugged their shoulders and grouped problems such as reduced healing ability in the category of things that ‘just happen’ as you age. By applying targeted science and technology to understand these mechanisms, we may find that we can impact and enhance, for example, wound healing in older people. Tom Rando’s very exciting work shows the potential of basic research to inform medical strategies that strive to keep older people healthy, independent, strong, and mobile.”

The experiment raises several interesting questions. For example, could blood transfusions be a possible enhancement to wound-healing in the elderly? Dr. Rando doesn’t think so. For one thing, the nature of the experiments he performed would suggest that a patient would have to be exposed to ‘young blood’ for weeks or months to simulate the full exposure to a properly functioning Wnt pathway as the mice received in the experiment. Another concern is that any approach that tinkers with cell differentiation in the body could have the potential to trigger unchecked growth in a particular type of cell, which could cause cancer.

Dr. Rando, who also does research and clinical work at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, is senior author of the research that was published in the Aug. 10 issue of Science.
 Dr. Rando’s Stanford co-authors are Andrew Brack, PhD, postdoctoral scholar; Michael Conboy, PhD, postdoctoral scholar; Sudeep Roy, research assistant; Mark Lee, MD, PhD, postdoctoral scholar; and Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD, assistant professor of hematology. The research was funded by the NIH, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Ellison Medical Foundation and an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award to Dr. Rando.