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NIH Awards Einstein Researcher Multi-Million Dollar Grant To Extend Our Understanding of Exceptional Longevity

September 17, 2007 - (BRONX, NY) - Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has been awarded a grant of more than $9.25 million from the National Institutes of Health to further the medical school's study of centenarians and the biology of aging.

Led by Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of Einstein's Institute for Aging Research, the research will build on the team's previous work to identify genes that appear to contribute to exceptional longevity in humans, and to assess the associations among these genes with the delay or absence of age-related diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. To date, Dr. Barzilai and colleagues have identified several biological markers that, they believe, may have contributed to the health and long lives of the centenarians and their families - numbering over 400 - who have participated in Einstein's Longevity Genes Project.

The NIH grant will support a program of integrated projects, which are aimed at illuminating and expanding the current knowledge of the biological mechanisms of healthy aging. Research goals include:

  •   identifying additional genes and genetic variations within genes associated with longevity;
  •   identifying the ways these genes and their variants interact in humans;
  •   identifying the specific mechanisms of these genes and their variants, as well as their roles in the   onset or absence of age-related diseases and/or mental and physical preservation;
  •   examining whether these longevity genes are likely to affect the incidence of cardiovascular disease and other life-threatening illnesses in the offspring of centenarians; and
  •   examining whether these longevity genes affect the incidence of cognitive impairment in relation to the presence of favorable genotypes and their phenotypic expression.

"We are very grateful to the NIH for its support," said Dr. Barzilai, who also is the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Aging Research at Einstein, as well as professor of medicine and of molecular genetics. "We have in place a strong interdisciplinary team of Einstein investigators, including specialists in the fields of gerontology, neurology, genetics, epidemiology, and statistical genetics. These exceptional individuals have collaborated on our previous longevity research and we will continue our work together in this critical next phase, afforded by the NIH grant."

He added, "Ultimately, our goal is to learn, on a biomechanical and molecular basis, how to prevent heart disease, strokes, dementia, and other ailments associated with aging. We anticipate that these insights could lead to new modes of prevention against and treatment strategies for these diseases. As such, we believe that our research will have a profound impact on both the length and quality of life for all of us."

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