Healthy Aging and Independent Living Program

The Healthy Aging and Independent Living Program within the Kogod Center on Aging is designed to translate discoveries about the biology of aging from the laboratory to the bedside and back.

Researchers work to optimize measures of health span — the healthy, independent years of life — across the translational continuum and to develop scalable and readily implementable solutions to improve the health and well-being of older adults.

Focus areas

Specific research focus areas in the program include:

  • Developing advanced technologies to promote independence
  • Monitoring and predicting changes in function and clinical status
  • Enacting and coordinating community-based pharmacological, physical and provider interventions
  • Educating patients and caregivers
  • Identifying and measuring biomarkers of biological age, including physical performance, cognitive function, body composition and metabolic state
  • Driving the translation of promising interventions into clinical practice

Research findings

Significant research results from the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Program include:

  • Developing a method to accurately measure a circulating factor, called GDF11, to better understand its potential impact on the aging process. Mayo Clinic researchers found that GDF11 levels don't decline with chronological age but are associated with signs of advanced biological age, including chronic disease, frailty and greater operative risk in older adults with cardiovascular disease.
  • Demonstrating that a poor diet and lack of exercise accelerated the onset of cellular senescence and, in turn, age-related conditions in mice. Furthermore, researchers showed that exercise can decrease senescent cell burden.

Program leadership

Director: Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D., M.S.

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.