Nobel Conference Examines The Science of Aging

Posted on September 14th, 2004 by

The emerging science of gerontology is the topic to be explored by the 40th Nobel Conference to be held Oct. 5-6, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. This year’s conference, titled “The Science of Aging,” will highlight the remarkably diverse fields that contribute to our knowledge of aging from physicians and molecular biologists, to demographers and economists, to caregivers and public policy activists.

The panel of experts will explore areas from the medical and psychological research on aging to the social and economic implications of growing older. This year’s panel includes:

  • Laura L. Carstensen, Department of Psychology, Stanford University. Her socioemotional selectivity theory of aging was devised through study of the development of the human personality and factors that contribute to successful aging. It has become the model for depicting how social context affects our emotional well-being in the second half of our lives.
  • Leonard Hayflick, Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco. Professor Hayflick is a leading theoretician in the fields of aging and longevity determination. He discovered that normal cells have a finite capacity to divide, a phenomenon now known as the Hayflick Limit. He is the author of the popular book How and Why We Age, published in 10 languages.
  • Cynthia J. Kenyon, Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco. By manipulating genes that regulate aging in laboratory experiments, Kenyon has produced a strain of animals that can live six times longer than normal and remain robust until death.
  • S. Jay Olshansky, School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago. A demographer and author of The Quest for Immortality: Science Frontiers of Aging, Olshansky takes a biodemographic approach to the study of longevity that has recognized the impact the baby boomers will have on our healthcare systems and how delaying the onset of diseases associated with aging will affect the welfare and happiness of an aging population.
  • Dennis J. Selkoe, MD, Center for Neurologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School. As one of the world’s foremost researchers on the underlying molecular changes that occur in brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Selkoe speaks encouragingly about prospects for controlling or preventing these changes and about the possibility of a cure.
  • Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, University Memory and Aging Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. In addition to pursuing recognized research on Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Whitehouse has written extensively about the ethical issues related to caring for Alzheimer’s patients, quality of life, and end-of-life scenarios.

The 6,000 conference attendees can also participate in discussion sessions on Alzheimer’s disease, aging and spirituality, and issues facing caregivers on Tuesday evening. This year health-care professionals may also register for certified continuing-education credits.

The traditional closing banquet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Oct. 6) will take a look back at the 40 years of Nobel Conference, emceed by former conference director Richard Elvee. The concept for the annual conference is attributed to Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg at the dedication of the Alfred Nobel Hall of Science on the Gustavus campus in 1963. The first Nobel Conference was held in 1965.

The Nobel Conference at Gustavus is the oldest, ongoing lecture program in world (outside of Sweden and Norway, where the Nobel Prizes are awarded) to be fully authorized by the Nobel Foundation. Over the past four decades, the conference has hosted 59 Nobel laureates including Norman Borlaug, Gerald Edelman, Eric R. Kandel, Sir Harold Kroto, William Shockley, and most recently Christian R. de Duve.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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