Each of us is unique, with a defining genetic code as personal and individual as our thumbprint. The code resides in the nucleus of almost every cell in our bodies. It is here, inside the cell, where microscopic configurations of highly personal genetic codes intersect with evolution, science, and with man’s quest for slowing the aging process. To understand this convergence is to hold the key that will unlock the secrets to a long and healthy life for all.
What triggers the aging process — a process that begins at conception and progresses with each passing moment until death? In the simplest terms, aging occurs because cells are either dying faster than they are replaced or their functioning becomes altered. Yet the fundamental biologic basis of aging at the cellular level is not known.
Many diseases and disorders can hinder our ability to age successfully — diabetes, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis and many others. These disorders carry life–changing implications for individuals and their families. Although some of the complications associated with these disorders can be managed or prevented, these conditions have been found to decrease both life expectancy and quality of life.
Currently, a substantial and increasing percentage of the aging U.S. population is entering the period of increased risk for these disorders — at the same time that federal funding for aging research is declining. An undeniable demographic imperative demands action. We must persevere in our efforts to understand and modify the aging process, and philanthropic support will play a vital role in enabling these much needed research and education efforts to continue.
Because human beings age on many levels — biologically, psychologically, socially and spiritually, Mayo Clinic understands that the study of aging demands a multidisciplinary and integrated approach. In 2002, a generous founding gift allowed Mayo Clinic to establish the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, a comprehensive center spanning the full spectrum from research to clinical practice and education.
Watch Unlocking the Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life, a video about The Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.
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