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Summit to Address Disease-related Causes of Aging

Researchers will convene in New York City to discuss evidence that chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancer can accelerate the body’s aging process, as well as to define critical next steps in research and treatment avenues.

Published March 31, 2016

NEW YORK, March 31, 2016 — On April 13-14, 2016, researchers will come together to explore how chronic diseases-specifically HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancer-can affect the seven mechanistic pillars of aging at Disease Drivers of Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience Summit. Research shows that cellular and organismal aging can promote chronic disease pathology, however insufficient research has focused on the inverse relationship.

"We have a body of epidemiological evidence that indicates accelerated aging in disease survivors," says conference organizer and speaker Felipe Sierra, PhD, Director, Division of Aging Biology at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH. "At the same time, we have advanced enormously in our understanding of the basic biology of aging, and how it affects disease etiology. I think it is imperative that we now intensify efforts into elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which these two observations are linked: how is it that early exposure to disease (or treatment) accelerates the processes typically seen during aging."

The Summit is presented by The New York Academy of Sciences, American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), The Gerontological Society of America,  and the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group and builds upon the discussion and outcomes of the October 2013 Summit, Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Healthspan and Chronic Disease, presented by the National Institutes of Health and the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group.

"Geroscience is now widely recognized by scientists as a turnkey approach to addressing our increasingly aging population, and with it, the dramatic increase in age-related diseases," says conference organizer Stephanie Lederman, EdM, Executive Director, the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), citing a need for increased funding to continue making advances in this important area of research.

This year's Summit will convene basic, translational, and clinical researchers from academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, across the disparate fields of HIV/AIDS, oncology, diabetes, and aging research.

"A multidisciplinary approach is essential to understanding the aging process. With aging, we have to consider the entire organism and what affects it, from the cellular, molecular, and genetic levels, to clinical aspects and social and behavioral factors," says keynote speaker Richard Hodes, MD, Director, National Institute on Aging at NIH. "Deeper understanding of these influences and their interplay can lead to insights that can make a difference in the health and well-being of individuals as they advance in age. I am excited to see conversations among scientists from many disciplines now turning to aging research."

Conference Sessions will combine perspectives from basic, translational, and clinical researchers and will feature a unique format of short, focused talks centered on critical open research questions. Speakers will explore the molecular mechanisms by which chronic diseases and treatments can accelerate age-related health decline. Participants will also identify knowledge gaps and future directions of research required for a more complete understanding of the relationship between chronic diseases and aging.

"The field of aging research is at an inflection point with promising interventions emerging that address the biological underpinning of the chronic diseases of aging. Likewise, it's essential to understand the impact of major diseases on the aging process. As the leading multi-disciplinary membership Society, The Gerontological Society of America is thrilled to see these research insights being translated into clinical applications," says conference organizer James Appleby, RPh, MPH, Executive Director and CEO of The Gerontological Society of America.

Dr. Sierra will wrap up the conference by moderating a panel discussion on, "Identifying Common Themes and Open Research Questions to Advance Therapies for Chronic Diseases and Aging."

For media inquiries, including requests for press passes, please contact Diana Friedman (; 212-298-8645).


Silver sponsorship was provided by the Glenn Foundation.  Additional support was provided by the Alliance for Aging Research, the American Geriatrics Society, Novartis, and The Gerontological Society of America.

Funding for this conference was made possible, in part, by 1 R13 AG 053043-01 from the National Institute on Aging at NIH. Co-funding has been provided by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Cancer Institute. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention by trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

This activity is supported by an educational grant from Lilly. For further information concerning Lilly grant funding

Additional grants were provided by Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

About The New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at

About the American Federation for Aging Research

The American Federation for Aging Research is devoted to helping people live longer, healthier lives. Since 1981, AFAR has played a major role in advancing knowledge of aging by providing grants to scientists, physicians, and students conducting aging-related research. These investigators are committed to understanding the basic mechanisms of aging, and finding the causes, cures, and treatments of many age-related diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. AFAR is committed to nurturing the talent and brainpower in aging research and geriatric medicine to ensure the health of millions of older people. To learn more, please visit

About The Gerontological Society of America

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society - and its 5,500+ members worldwide - is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. The organization fosters collaboration between physicians, nurses, biologists, behavioral and social scientists, psychologists, social workers, economists, policy experts, and many others. GSA also convenes an Annual Scientific Meeting, which showcases the latest advancements in gerontological research, and publishes the field's preeminent peer-reviewed journals. To learn more, visit

About The Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group

The Geroscience hypothesis states that since aging is the major risk factor for most chronic diseases, by addressing the basic biology of aging scientists may be able to delay -multiple chronic diseases at once.  Because the elderly are primarily susceptible to comorbidities, the gains in health will be considerably more substantial than with the current model of addressing one disease at a time.  The Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) seeks to educate basic scientists, clinicians and NIH leadership about the geroscience hypothesis, and recent advances in our understanding of the aging process and its role in the development of disease.


Marie Gentile
Director, Communications