Message From the Director

James L. Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D.

James L. Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D.

My grandfather was a tremendous man, and the way he lived his life inspired me from a very early age. He instilled a great love for older people in all of his grandchildren, and for that I am very grateful.

His long and healthy life influenced my decision to become a geriatrician. I wanted to find out if there were methods and scientific processes that could help other people live life the way that my grandfather did.

As a clinical geriatrician and a basic scientist in the laboratory, I recognize the gap that needs to be bridged between people doing basic research on aging and people providing clinical care for older adults.

Of the approximately 7,000 geriatricians in the United States, only a handful of these specialists in clinical care for older adults have grants from the National Institutes of Health to study basic science aspects of aging.

Conversely, the people doing basic science work in aging are very rarely trained in a clinical discipline.

Although considerable advances have been made in understanding the basic biology of aging, especially during the past five to 10 years, not enough attention has been paid to translating this research into practical solutions that address end-of-life issues and the wider societal implications of biomedical research.

One of the reasons I chose to come to Mayo Clinic is its excellence in translational research — cutting-edge medical research — the kind of research that shortens the distance between what happens in the laboratory and the actual progression of strategies and treatments for helping people. This is sorely needed in the aging field, perhaps more so than any other field.

Because aging affects every organ system, every aspect of one's being, Mayo Clinic represents a medical institution ideally suited for a center on aging.

Mayo Clinic places great stock in providing the highest quality of care for its patients. It offers a tremendous breadth of expertise in the clinical disciplines and sciences, and it fosters a noncompetitive environment.

The Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging provides dynamic opportunities for stepping up to greater demands for impact — for taking bigger risks for bigger gains not available in more traditional research programs.

Through collaboration and innovation, Mayo Clinic wants to scale up development successes at the intersection where underlying concepts that unlock nature connect with revolutionary, individualized approaches that can enhance and increase the healthful and productive period in life.

Our mission is to understand, extend and improve the aging process with a vision of a longer and healthier life for all.