The Alliance mourns the passing of one of the founding fathers of modern gerontology James E. Birren, Ph.D., who passed away at age 97 earlier this month.
Birren was an aging research pioneer who contributed much to the early beginnings of the field, including as founding dean of the USC Davis School of Gerontology, the first and largest school of gerontology in the world. He was also a part of the early formation of the Alliance, serving as an original member of the Science Advisory Board.
He began his career working with gerontology pioneer Nathan Shock in Baltimore, Md., at the U.S. Public Health Service’s first gerontology research unit. Birren then went to the National Institute of Mental Health, establishing its Section on Aging. He also played a role in what would ultimately become the National Institute on Aging.
Birren has left an indelible legacy and throughout his long life he made a significant impact on many people, including those of us at the Alliance. For all that he did, we celebrate his memory.