Einstein/Montefiore Department of Medicine

Department Faculty

Dr. Nir Barzilai, M.D.

Nir Barzilai, M.D.

Professor, Department of Medicine (Endocrinology)

Professor, Department of Genetics

Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair in Aging Research

Director, Institute for Aging Research

Areas of Research: We study the genetic of longevity, hypothesizing that centenarians have protective genes that allows the delay of aging and protect against age-related diseases. We also study the metabolic decline of aging, and hypothesize that the brain leads this decli

Professional Interests

Dr. Nir Barzilai is the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging Research and of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. He is the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research, professor in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics, and member of the Diabetes Research Center and of the Divisions of Endocrinology & Diabetes and Geriatrics.

Dr. Barzilai’s research interests are in the biology and genetics of aging. One focuses on the genetic of exceptional longevity, where we hypothesize and demonstrated that centenarians have protective genes, which allows the delay of aging or for the protection against age-related diseases. In a Program he is leading we take full advantage of phenotypes, DNA, and cells from the Ashkenazi Jewish families with exceptional longevity and the appropriate controls and his group have established at Einstein (over 2600 samples of which ~670 are centenarians) and discovered underling genomic differences associated with longevity. Longevity Genes Project (LGP) is a cross-sectional, on-going collection of blood and phenotype from families with centenarian proband. LonGenity is a longitudinal study of 1400 subjects, half offspring of parents with exceptional longevity, validating and following their aging in relationship to their genome. The second direction, for which Dr. Barzilai is holding an NIH Merit award that focuses on the metabolic decline of aging, and his team hypothesize that the brain leads this decline. His lab has identified several central pathways that specifically alter body fat distribution and insulin action and secretion by intraventricular or hypothalamic administration of several peptides that are modulated by aging including: Leptin, IGF-1, IGFBP3 and resveratrol.

He has received numerous grants, among them ones from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), American Federation for Aging Research, the Ellison Medical Foundation and The Glenn Medical foundation. He has published over 230 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and textbook chapters. He is an advisor to the NIH on several projects and serves on several editorial boards and is a reviewer for numerous other journals. Dr. Barzilai is in the board of the American Federation for Aging Research, is its co-scientific director, and has served on several NIA study section. He is also a founder of CohBar Inc., a biotech that develops mitochondrial derived peptides as therapy for aging and its diseases. He is co-PI on the R24 Geroscience (Apollo) grant that is an effort to move the field of aging to translation. Dr. Barzilai has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Beeson Fellow for Aging Research, the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging Award, the Paul F. Glenn Foundation Award, the NIA Nathan Shock Award, and the 2010 Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction in Aging Research.

He is currently leading an international effort to approve drugs that can target aging. Targeting Aging with METformin (TAME) is a specific study designed to prove the concept that multi-morbidities of aging can be delayed by metformin, working with the FDA to approve this approach which will serve as a template for future efforts to delay aging and its diseases in humans.

Born in Israel, Dr. Barzilai served as chief medic and physician in the Israel Defense Forces. He graduated from The Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and completed his residency in internal medicine at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. He served in a refugee camp during the war in Cambodia (1979-1980) and built a nutritional village in the homeland of the Zulu (1983 – Kwazulu). He has completed 2 fellowships at Yale (metabolism) and Corenell (Endocrinoology and molecular Medicine). He was an invited speaker to the 4th Israeli President Conference (2012) and a Vatican conference on efforts to enhance cures (2013, 2016). He has also taken part in Global initiatives and spoke at The Milken Global Institute, Asian Megatrends and is an advisor for the Prime Minister of Singapore on Aging. Dr. Barzilai has been on the ‘Forward 50, top 50 influence Jews in the US (2011). His work has been profiled by major outlets, including the New York Times, the BBC and PBS' NOVA science now, TEDx talk Science and is the leading feature on the Ron Howard/Jonathan Silberberg/National Geographic film about the Age of Aging.

Selected Publications

  1. Genomic of Exceptional Longevity in humans.
    1. Barzilai N, Atzmon G, Schechter C, Schaefer E, Lipton R, Cheng S, Shuldiner AR. Unique lipoprotein phenotype and genotype associated with exceptional longevity. JAMA. 2003. 290:2030-40
    2. Atzmon G, … Barzilai N: Lipoprotein genotype and conserved pathway for exceptional longevity in humans. PLoS Biol. 2006 Apr;4(4):e113. PMC1413567.
    3. Atzmon G, … , Barzilai N, Govindaraju DR, Suh Y. Genetic variation in human telomerase is associated with telomere length in Ashkenazi centenarians. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 4 PMC2868292
  2. The resiliency to cognitive decline with Exceptional Longevity.
    1. Ismail K, Nussbaum L, Sebastiani P, Andersen S, Perls T, Barzilai N, Milman S. Compression of Morbidity Is Observed Across Cohorts with Exceptional Longevity. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Aug;64(8):1583-91. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14222. Epub 2016 Jul 5. PMID: 27377170 PMC4988893
    2. Perice L, Barzilai N, Verghese J, Weiss EF, Holtzer R, Cohen P, Milman S. Lower circulating insulin-like growth factor-I is associated with better cognition in females with exceptional longevity without compromise to muscle mass and function. Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Oct 14;8(10):2414-2424. doi: 10.18632/aging.101063. PMID: 27744417 PMC5115897c)
    3. N. Barzilai, G. Atzmon, C.A. Derby, and R.B. Lipton, A genotype of exceptional longevity is associated with preservation of cognitive function (2006). Neurology; 67: 2170 PMID: 17190939 PMC3347321
    4. Sanders AE, Wang C, Katz M, Derby CA, Barzilai N, Ozelius L, Lipton RB. Association of a functional polymorphism in the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) gene with memory decline and incidence of dementia. JAMA. 2010 Jan 13;303(2):150-8.PMID: 20068209, PMC3047443
  3. Metabolism and mammalian aging. Muzumdar R, … Barzilai N. Visceral Adipose Tissue Modulates Mammalian Longevity. Aging Cell. 2008 Mar 18. PMCID: PMC2504027.
    1. Cobb LJ, … Barzilai N, Cohen P. Naturally occurring mitochondrial-derived peptides are age-dependent regulators of apoptosis, insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory markers. Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Apr 10. PMCID: PMC4925829.
    2. Heo HJ, Tozour JN, Delahaye F, Zhao Y, Cui L, Barzilai N, Einstein FH. Advanced aging phenotype is revealed by epigenetic modifications in rat liver after in utero malnutrition. Aging Cell. 2016 Jul 29. PMCID: PMC5013021
  4. GH/IGF-1 axis and mammalian aging. Muzumdar RH, …, Barzilai NCentral and opposing effects of IGF-I and IGF-Binding Protein-3 on systemic insulin action. Diabetes 2006;55(10):2788-96.
    1. Huffman DM, … Barzilai N. Central insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) restores whole-body insulin action in a model of age-related insulin resistance and IGF-1 decline. Aging Cell. 2015 Nov 4. PMCID: PMC4717281
    2. Milman S,…Barzilai N. Low insulin-like growth factor-1 level predicts survival in humans with exceptional longevity. Aging Cell, 2014 Mar12. PMCID: PMC4116456.
    3. Suh Y, …, Barzilai N, Cohen P. Functionally-significant insulin-like growth factor-I receptor mutations in centenarian. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Mar 4;105(9):3438-42. PMCID: PMC2265137
    4. Ben-Avraham … P, Barzilai N, Atzmon G. The GH receptor exon 3 deletion is a marker of male-specific exceptional longevity associated with increased GH sensitivity and taller stature. Sci Adv. 2017 Jun 16;3(6):e1602025. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602025. eCollection 2017 Jun. PMID:28630896

More Information About Dr. Nir Barzilai

Institute for Aging research

Diabetes Research Center

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
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Research Information

In the News

The New York Times interviews Dr. Gil Atzmon and Dr. Nir Barzilai about their study linking longevity with a common genetic mutation in men.

The New York Times interviews Dr. Nir Barzilai on the development of self-driving cars to serve older adults.

More media coverage