Date: February 1st, 2002
When the Alliance For Aging Research was formed fifteen years ago, the country was not focused on the impact of the aging and how the health of the Baby Boomers will affect our economy and our overall society.
Thankfully, over the past fifteen years, more attention has been turned towards much needed medical information and breakthroughs for the aging community.
Medical science is constantly on the threshold of dramatic, new discoveries that could bring remarkable benefits to people as they age. The tools are there. All that is needed is a sustained effort to commit funding and press forward with research.
As a result, health-related advances during the last century improved the quality of our lives and our life expectancy, which soared from less than 50 years for those born in the United States at the turn of the 20th century to more than 76 years for those born as the 21st century debuted.
The last century brought us organ transplants, hip replacements and drugs that lower cholesterol, to cite just a few of the miracles of modern medicine that have increased life expectancy. Such notable achievements are due in large measure to a combination of more effective health strategies and biomedical research.
Even more mind-boggling advances lie ahead of us.
A variety of human cells are already being engineered and tested as therapies and cures for the tragedies of Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injuries, and many more afflictions.
Personalized drug therapies also are in our future. According to Dr. Robert Butler, President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Longevity Center, one special development within gene-based and regenerative (spare parts) medicine will be 'personalized' physiologically grounded pharmacological agents that will be effective against a range of diseases without the stressing side effects.
Dr. Butler was among a group of experts invited to look into the crystal ball for the 15th anniversary of the Alliance for Aging Research and share what medical advances they believe are in store for us over the next 15 years.
We were honored to have heard from such extraordinary visionaries - ranging from Nobel Laureates to U. S. senators to top U. S. scientists and physicians specializing in aging research and geriatrics to well-known thought leaders and social commentators. Even the famous Dr. Ruth Westheimer voiced her opinions on the importance of increased medical research into the diseases of aging, especially in view of the pending "Senior Boom."
Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg, President of Rockefeller University, observed that he "experienced a millionfold enhancement of computer power" in his academic lifetime and expected to see the same occur in biomedicine.
Citing mammograms and screenings for colon and prostate cancer and diabetes, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) predicted, "The more our population ages, the more we can expect preventive techniques that change lives for the better."
Despite the variety of backgrounds and expertise of our guest commentators, we were struck by the fact that all saw the need to push forward and boost the recent revelations in medical science and aging research to the next level.
The speed of medical science, and the enormous benefits it can bring, makes it important for all of us to reflect upon the possibilities ahead.
These advances come to us with new challenges and ethical controversies. As a nation, we must choose the wise and timely development of science and technology that will grace old age with extended health, vitality and independence.
It is the mission of the Alliance for Aging Research to promote greater scientific and medical discovery to improve the quality of life for a growing population of older people and to ensure the benefits of a long, healthy life to every aging man and woman.
We work hard to make sure that this important objective is embodied in everything we do and in every article we produce for Living Longer and Loving It! We hope you believe we met this important charge in 2001. More important, we hope you will continue to help us shape tomorrow's research and health care landscapes.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!