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Einstein designated an NIH Center of Excellence for aging research

August 16, 2010 (BRONX, NY) Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has been named one of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. The select group of five centers nationwide provides leadership in the pursuit of basic research into the biology of aging. Einstein's designation includes a $3.1 million, five-year grant from the NIH's National Institute on Aging.

"Einstein has become a leader in research on aging, a process relevant to every organ system and almost every disease," said Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean. "This award from the National Institute on Aging is a tribute to the outstanding research conducted by Nir Barzilai, Ana Maria Cuervo, Jan Vijg and their colleagues."

The establishment of Einstein's Center is based on eight years of work by the College of Medicine's Institute for Aging Research, founded in 2002 by director Nir Barzilai, M.D., professor of medicine and of genetics and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Aging Research. Dr. Barzilai will also be director of Einstein's Center.

"The role of age in disease is underestimated," explained Dr. Barzilai. "Aging is a major factor for the development of most adult onset diseases. If we are able to determine the biology of aging, then we can look for ways to protect against it and increase health span, or living disease-free even into advanced old age. Our research in both the Institute and our new Center is ultimately aimed at finding treatments to prevent or slow this process."

Einstein's Center will be run under the auspices of the Institute, enhancing the institute's already robust research component. Currently, there are 48 Einstein investigators, 13 regional members (including a special alliance with Brown University), and 4 national members (most with active collaborations with Einstein faculty) who work on research projects launched under the Institute. This work will continue under the new Einstein Center.

Einstein's Center will contain three research resource cores. The cores established under the Institute, are unique to the College of Medicine, and are novel in their use of technology. The Cellular and Tissue Aging Core will provide current and innovative aging-specific measurements of cellular function; the Genomics and Epigenomics of Aging Core will offer global genome and epigenome screening resources, including analysis pipelines uniquely tailored to aging research; and the Healthy Aging Physiology Core will perform sophisticated integrative metabolic studies to determine 'healthy aging' physiology, including metabolism, body composition and energy balance, cardiac and cognitive/functional behavior, and exercise.

Among those leading Einstein's Center will be Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., professor of developmental and molecular biology, of anatomy and structural biology, and of medicine. A recognized expert on cellular and organ aging, Dr. Cuervo will direct the Cellular and Tissue Aging Core.

"These are very exciting times for aging research," said Dr. Cuervo. "Over the last 10 years, we have seen researchers embrace the important molecular advances and methods developed in other areas to make great strides in our understanding of aging. It is only through this transformation that the design of interventions aimed at increasing health span is now possible."

Another Center leader will be Jan Vijg, Ph.D., professor and chair of genetics and the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics. He has established state-of-the-art genetic cores crucial for the Institute and will lead the Genomics and Epigenomics of Aging Core, as well as the Research Development Core, which will provide seed funding for new investigators and the expansion of ongoing research.

"A deeper understanding of the genomic and epigenomic processes underlying aging will help us to increase health span," said Dr. Vijg. "With support from Einstein leadership and cutting-edge technologies at our disposal, investigators both at Einstein and at partner institutions can take advantage of the latest equipment and analysis to advance work in the field."

"Albert Einstein College of Medicine is a welcomed addition to the NIA's Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging," said Felipe Sierra, Ph.D., director of NIA's Division of Aging Biology. "Nathan Shock was dedicated to characterizing normal changes versus disease-related changes in aging. Einstein's three research cores will carry on Shock's mission and add to our understanding of the cellular, genetic, and physiological factors that influence health and longevity."

Dr. Barzilai will run the Healthy Aging Physiology Core. Other faculty members in the Center include Yousin Suh, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and of genetics, who will run the seminar series for the center. Radhika Muzumdar, M.D., M.B.B.S., associate professor of pediatrics and medicine, will organize the center's annual retreat, which will be co-chaired by the American Federation for Aging Research.

The Division of Aging Biology of the National Institute on Aging supports Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging across the U.S. The other centers are in Maine (The Jackson Laboratories), Michigan (University of Michigan), Texas (University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio), and Washington (University of Washington).

The Nathan Shock Centers are named in honor of Nathan Wetherell Shock, Ph.D., who began his gerontology career in 1941. He took a two-man aging unit and built it into the internationally respected Gerontology Research Center of the National Institute on Aging, NIH. Dr. Shock was the catalyst for the emergence of aging research in the United States and overseas for nearly half a century.


Contact: Kim Newman
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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