The end of aging? Targeting the underlying mechanisms for enhancing human healthspan


San Francisco, CA — The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR),, the world-renowned non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advancing healthy aging through biomedical research, will host a luncheon symposium on biotechnology and longevity on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square.

The symposium, The Architects of Aging, will feature a panel of leaders in biotechnology and biomedical research who are advancing cutting-edge interventions that will extend healthspan–our years of health as we grow older–by targeting the biological processes of aging.

Moderated by Jamie Metzl, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow for Biotechnology and National Security, the panel includes:

  • Nir Barzilai, M.D. – Principal Investigator of the Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) Trial AFAR Deputy Scientific Director and Director of the Institute for Aging Research, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Judith Campisi, Ph.D. – Scientific Co-Founder of Unity Biotechnology and former member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Sangamo Biosciences Professor, Buck Institute for Research on Aging
  • Nathaniel David, Ph.D. – President of Unity Biotechnology
  • Jan van Deursen, Ph.D. – Co-founder of Unity Biotechnology Director of the Senescence Program in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, Mayo Clinic
  • Eric Verdin, M.D. – He has served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Elixir, Sirtris, and Nokia and other companies. President and Chief Executive Officer, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

At the luncheon, AFAR also will honor the ingenuity of two biotech executives dedicated to healthy aging:

  • Edward Lanphier, Founder of Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc., will receive the AFAR Chairman's Award, which is presented to lay individuals or members of the corporate or foundation community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the field of aging research through their activities and support of those involved in the field.
  • Nathaniel David, Ph.D., Co-Founder and President of Unity Biotechnology, will receive the AFAR Honorary Leadership Award, which recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations whose work has impacted the field of aging research and improved public health.

"Since its founding more than 35 years ago, AFAR has supported the basic biological research that is now being translated into exciting new interventions that can help people live healthier, longer," states Stephanie Lederman, AFAR Executive Director. "With one person turning 65 every eight seconds in America today, we need to expedite translation of this science, and AFAR is proud to convene and honor these 'Architects of Aging' who are advancing the latest biotechnology that is poised to extend health by modifying aging."

About the Panelists

Nir Barzilai, M.D., is AFAR's Deputy Scientific Director and a multiple AFAR grantee. He is the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. There, he is also the Director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging and of the Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, as well as The Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Aging Research, Professor of Medicine and Genetics and a member of the Diabetes Research Center, the Divisions of Endocrinology and Geriatrics. He is also a founder of CohBar Inc., a biotech that develops mitochondrial-derived peptides as therapy for aging and its diseases, and he is leading the TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin) multi central study, as well as co-Principal Investigator on the R24 Geroscience (Apollo) grant from the National Institute on Aging that is an effort to move the field of aging to translation.

Judith Campisi, Ph.D., is a Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. In the field of biotechnology, Dr. Campisi has served on the scientific advisory board of Sangamo Biosciences, which was founded by AFAR honoree Edward Lanphier, and is a scientific co-founder of Unity Biotechnology. She is a pioneer in understanding aging and identifying a basic aging process–cellular senescence–that is a prime candidate for fueling myriad diseases associated with aging. Dr. Campisi's work has been the main driving force behind the idea that cellular senescence is a basic aging process and is at the heart of an evolutionary trade-off, balancing tumor suppression against tissue repair and regeneration. Dr. Campisi received an AFAR grant in 1990.

Moderator Jamie Metzl, Ph.D., is an Atlantic Council Senior Fellow for Biotechnology and National Security. As a novelist, blogger, syndicated columnist, media commentator, and expert in Asian affairs and biotechnology policy, Dr. Metzl has helped broaden interdisciplinary discussions on biotechnology. He has testified before Congress on the national security implication of the biotechnology and genomics revolutions. His novel, Genesis Code, deals with issues of human genetic enhancement in the context of a future US-China rivalry. His new novel, Eternal Sonata, explores issues related to extreme human life extension, was published by Arcade in October 2016.

Jan van Deursen, Ph.D. is the Vita Valley Professor of Cellular Senescence, Director of the Senescence Program in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, and Director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for Senescence Research at Mayo Clinic. He is a co-founder of Unity Biotechnology with Judith Campisi and Ned David. The aging-related work of the van Deursen lab focuses on the progeroid gene BubR1, which encodes a core component of the mitotic checkpoint whose level of expression markedly declines with aging.

Eric Verdin, M.D., is President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California. Dr. Verdin is also a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. The Verdin lab was the first to identify the key role of protein acetylation in mitochondrial function and aging. The lab's aging-related work now focuses on how metabolism, diet and small molecules regulate a family of proteins called histone deacetylases, and thereby the aging process and its associated diseases. Dr. Verdin is Director of the Glenn Center for Aging Research at the Buck Institute and has served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Elixir, Sirtris, and Nokia and other companies.

About the Awardees

Nathaniel "Ned" David, Ph.D., is President of Unity Biotechnology, which he co-founded in 2011. Before establishing Unity, Dr. David co-founded four other biotechnology companies that together raised over $1.5 billion in financing and employ over 400 scientists, engineers, and business people. Dr. David is a co-founder of Syrrx (acquired by Takeda), Achaogen (AKAO), Kythera Biopharmaceuticals (KYTH, acquired by Allergan), and Sapphire Energy. He holds pending and issued patents in fields such as nanovolume crystallography, antibiotic resistance, aesthetic medicine, and cellular senescence. He has served on the Board of Directors of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Sapphire Energy, and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and is a member of the board of trustees of the University of California Foundation.

Edward Lanphier is the Founder of Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel human therapeutics built upon targeted genome editing. Mr. Lanphier has more than 35 years of leadership experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, as well as significant nonprofit experience with globally focused research and advocacy organizations. He has been a member of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging's Board of Trustees since 2012 and serves as advisor to the institute's CEO.


About AFAR

The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to support and advance healthy aging through biomedical research. Founded in 1981, AFAR has championed the cause and supported the funding of science in healthier aging and age-related medicine. To address the shortage of physicians and researchers dedicated to the science of healthier aging, AFAR funds physicians and scientists probing the fundamental mechanisms of aging, as well as specific diseases associated with aging populations at critical points throughout their careers. AFAR engages the public through webinars, conferences and our online resource, InfoAging, featuring over two dozen downloadable guides, edited by guest experts on topics ranging from theories of aging, age-related conditions, healthy lifestyle tips, and more. Learn at or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

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