Scientists are shedding new light on healthy aging, says President Peter Schultz

It has long been assumed that getting older means getting sicker. And certainly, the risk for many diseases increases as we age. Yet, there is a growing consensus among the scientific community that the onset and progression of many age-related conditions isn’t inevitable and that many people may be able to stay healthy much later in life.

In this issue of Scripps Research Magazine, we spotlight how our scientists are deciphering the underlying biological processes of aging and how they are using that knowledge to develop new therapies for aging-related diseases.

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These advances include newly discovered links between inflammation, metabolism and genetics that shed light on how we might prevent age-related physiological changes from becoming full-blown pathologies. They also include emerging therapies for conditions most often found in older people. For instance, you’ll read about promising experimental therapies for osteoarthritis, one of the most common ailments of seniors. And you’ll learn about a drug developed at Scripps Research that is being used to treat neurodegenerative and heart diseases—a pioneering approach that is a harbinger of other precision medicine therapies for aging-associated conditions.

Beyond our research on diseases of aging, you’ll read about recent breakthroughs across the spectrum of science and medicine. These range from powerful new tools for generating medicines against difficult-to-drug diseases to neuroscience breakthroughs in decoding how the brain forms—and forgets—memories. This issue also will highlight our scientists’ continued contributions to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, this includes a significant role in tracking the emergence and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variants, some of which have acquired concerning new traits such as the ability to spread more quickly through populations. An interview with addiction researcher Marisa Roberto considers one of the collateral impacts of the pandemic, the related surge in mental illness and substance abuse, which the CDC flagged as a widespread public health problem.

I hope that you’ll take away from these pages that science has the power to protect our health, whether from the rigors of aging or the threat of a global pandemic. And I hope that you find, as I do, much cause for optimism.

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Peter Schultz, PhD
President and CEO, Scripps Research