Buck Institute partners with researchers in Chile on a major initiative to jumpstart research on aging in South America

Chilean government funds the Center for Geroscience, Brain Health and Metabolism

Novato, CA/August 31, 2015: The Buck Institute’s mission to extend healthspan has always been global in nature - now that global outreach has a new focal point, as the Institute partners with researchers in Chile who have been awarded a $6.5 million, five-year government grant to establish the “Center for Geroscience, Brain Health and Metabolism” (GC-BHM) in Santiago.

The Buck helped design the proposal, which received the award from the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research to address a priority need – how to prevent the impending crisis of an aging population. The GC-BHM is sponsored by the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Chile; the program will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, with the aim of extending the program to other facets of aging as the research progresses. 

Buck researchers, led by President and CEO Brian Kennedy, PhD, will collaborate on research and provide expertise and training not currently available in Chile, where almost 25 percent of the population is on track to be older than 60 by 2050, giving it the highest aging population in South America. “The government in Chile recognizes that we are in ‘the age of aging’ and has made a bold commitment to the health and well-being of older adults and for that I commend them,” said Kennedy. “I am excited to help them build what will be a groundbreaking program.”

The GC-BHM has five major goals: 1) to improve diagnoses for neurodegenerative diseases; 2) to evaluate age-related and genetic risk factors linked to neurodegeneration in the Chilean population; 3) to understand how molecular mechanisms involved in aging lead to neurodegeneration; 4) to explore how molecular mechanisms involved in aging lead to neurodegeneration; and 5) to develop a program of interventions to attenuate the consequences of aging.

Kennedy, along with several other Buck faculty, will interconnect on multiple projects as adjunct investigators, helping the GC-BHM to build capacity to perform world class aging research. Dale Bredesen, MD, will be involved in Alzheimer’s-related projects, Xianmin Zeng, PhD, will train scientists in stem cell technology, Heinrich Jasper, PhD, will focus on projects related to metabolism and enhancing adult stem cell longevity and Pejmun Haghighi, PhD, will be involved in projects aimed at enhancing neural function with age. The approved project plans “to create a permanent flow of students and postdocs funded by the GC-BHM to perform joint projects between Chile and the Buck Institute. “

“We look forward to working with Buck Institute researchers to tackle the big challenge of our aging population,” said GC-BHM Director Professor Christian Gonzales Billault, who is on the faculty of Sciences at the University of Chile. “Being able to draw on their expertise both in research and training will allow our work to proceed at a faster pace. They will help us join the global community of aging researchers.”

About the Buck Institute for Research on Aging

The Buck Institute is the U.S.’s first independent research organization devoted to Geroscience – focused on the connection between normal aging and chronic disease. Based in Novato, CA, The Buck is dedicated to extending “Healthspan”, the healthy years of human life and does so utilizing a unique interdisciplinary approach involving laboratories studying the mechanisms of aging and those focused on specific diseases. Buck scientists strive to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke.  In their collaborative research, they are supported by the most recent developments in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and stem cell technologies. For more information: www.thebuck.org

About the Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile

The Faculty of Medicine was founded in 1842, following the establishment of the "School of Specialization" in 1833, which was the first formal institution to teach medicine in Chile. The Faculty of Medicine comprised the original faculty of the University, a matter of great prestige in Chile. Since its inception the Faculty have received eight national awards for science and six national awards for medicine, including Juan Gómez Millas Prize Award Juvenal Hernandez, Amanda Labarca Award and the Award Eloisa Diaz. Many of the country's leading doctors have graduated from the college, including Vicente Izquierdo, Federico Puga Borne, Manuel Barros Borgoño, Lucas Sierra Mendoza, Adolfo Valderrama, Máximo Cienfuegos, Ventura Carballo, Roberto del Río and Carlos Sazie. The Faculty of Sciences was founded in 1965 with the mission to conduct and develop scientific research programs in the fields of mathematics and biological sciences. The Faculty has 1,350 undergraduate students grouped in Bachelors Programs in Basic Sciences and Molecular Biotechnology and Engineering. The Faculty of Science also created the first PhD Program in Chile which has already graduated 184 students. Today the Faculty offers four different PhD Programs in Biological Sciences. The Faculty have received 10 national awards in Sciences.

About the Catholic University of Chile, Faculty of Biology

The School of Biological Sciences of the Catholic University of Chile is the academic unit, established in 1970, in charge of training both undergraduate and graduate college students in the field of biology. Currently, the School of Biological Sciences has 600 undergraduate students, distributed among programs in biology, biochemistry and marine biology. In addition, the University serves approximately 3,500 undergraduate students from other disciplines who require an education in biology. In 1970 the Faculty established a program of advanced education, the Doctoral Program of the University, with 200 active and 259 students and other graduates.

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