Watch a video about the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.


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

I've always found the process of aging itself to be fascinating, and wondered why it happens, and if something fundamental can be done to improve quality of life.

Excitingly, over the last five years or so, we've begun to realize that aging may in fact be a modifiable risk factor. We might be able to do something about these fundamental processes themselves. What Mayo's real strength is, is translating interventions that are discovered in the laboratory into human application.

We're trying to figure out ways where we can delay the onset of age-related disabilities, diseases and dysfunction as a group, so that we don't have to do things like prescribing better wheelchairs, better walkers.

What we all want to do is to be able to prevent people from getting to the point of needing those sort of interventions, so that we can keep people independent, functional, doing everything when they're in their 80s, 90s or hundreds as they were able to do in their 30s, 40s or 50s.

We need to do a lot more work. But if we can carry this off, and if we can translate these interventions into humans, we'd make a much greater impact than, say, curing cancer.

Aging Bone, Muscle and Joint Program

Watch a video about the Aging Bone and Muscle Program.


Sundeep Khosla, M.D.

This is a very exciting time for the field of osteoporosis. We're on the threshold of potential cures for this disease, or even reversing the consequences of the disease.

Mayo has a unique place in the history of osteoporosis, as a disease that was defined initially at Mayo. Thirty, 40 years ago, osteoporosis was viewed as an inevitable consequence of aging. The most devastating consequence of the disease is hip fracture. And when people fracture their hip, about a quarter of them die in the hospital. Another quarter never actually make it back home.

When I would go to the osteoporosis clinic, really all I could offer my patients was calcium and vitamin D and perhaps estrogen. Now we have eight or nine new drugs, with more on the horizon. The Holy Grail really is to find new drugs that will essentially cure the disease, and I think we're very close to that.

Watch a video about the Cellular Senescence Program.


Jan van Deursen, Ph.D.

What I'm interested in is the years that we have here, that we can spend those free of major debilitating diseases, so that we can enjoy this time maximally.

The breakthrough discovery was really making the link between the type of cells that we accumulate in our bodies when we age, and the onset of age-related pathologies, diseases or aging itself.

Senescent cells were known for a while; it wasn't known that they were linked to aging itself, although they were suspect. What we did is we removed these cells from organs and tissues and found that the health span greatly improved.

The big potential here is that if you are able to safely remove senescent cells, that you may have a positive impact on prevention altogether of age-related diseases.

Watch a video about the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Program.


Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D.

We're very obsessed with this very simple question of why do we get older. What makes us age? What is aging? I think we struggle with the very basic concept of that.

What I was witnessing in the clinical setting as a physical therapist was the fact that older individuals are struggling with doing very basic activities of daily living.

Our partnership formed when we developed a program called HAIL — Healthy Aging Independent Living. And it's an initiative where we're trying to understand ways to promote and enable older persons to live healthy and independently for longer.

Here we're actually taking clinicians and scientists and partnering them with designers, so we can try out that new technology and really kind of learn a lot about the human experience. What we're looking at are things that can be applied tomorrow. So there's nothing to kind of delay their transition into real life and people's homes to make a real impact.

Watch a video about the Regenerative Medicine and Aging Program.


Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D.

We have been dreaming, really, of being able one day to offer regenerative solutions to our patients. When I was in medical school, this was just science fiction.

We know worldwide that increasingly the population is aging. And in fact, with the aging of the population, one of the prevalent conditions is heart disease.

We're first trying to understand what we can do to indeed help the heart heal itself. We take the stem cells and we engage them to become heart-like cells. Once they reach that stage, then we inject them back into patients that have suffered from heart attack, with the notion that these already heart-like cells will be able to repair the overall failing organ.

What we'll be able to offer to patients at the end of the decade will be something that we have never offered before. And the particular excitement is that it will not be just one field of medicine to be affected, but I think across disciplines of both medicine and surgery we will see significant success: Parkinson's, heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis and so on. This truly is the frontier of medicine.