Buck Institute Receives $1.5 Million from Keck Foundation to Study Aging As Causal Factor for Disease

July 14, 2008  The W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded the Buck Institute for Age Research $1.5 million to test the hypothesis that age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cancer and osteoporosis are part and parcel of the fundamental aging process, with the conditions being caused by accelerated aging in different tissues of the body.

The research, under the direction of Buck faculty members Julie Andersen, PhD and Brad Gibson, PhD, will bring together the disciplines of neuroscience, mitochondrial proteomics, functional bioenergetics and the biology of aging to test an idea that is likely to influence the way the biomedical community views research on age-related disease. “If our assumption that aging underpins disease is correct, it opens up an opportunity to address the root cause of so many conditions,” said Andersen.  “It offers the real and tantalizing possibility that we could delay the onset of many debilitating diseases simply by delaying the aging process itself.”

Buck scientists will undertake two experimental programs focused on mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells, and naturally-occurring modifications of related enzymes.  Researchers will do a functional analysis to determine if deficiencies or defects in one of the enzymes are  involved in neuronal cell dysfunction and death and the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The other program will involve Alzheimer’s disease – scientists will survey animal models and post-mortem patient brain tissues to see if similar modifications have impacted actual tissues implicated in disease.

“The W. M. Keck Foundation is pleased to make this award to the Buck Institute in recognition of its outstanding work in the field of biomedical research,” said Roxanne Ford, Program Director at the W. M. Keck Foundation.  “This study is vital to our understanding of the fundamental biological processes of aging.”

About the W. M. Keck Foundation:
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W.M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation's grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science, and engineering. The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support in the areas of civic and community services with a special emphasis on children. For more information, visit www.wmkeck.org.

About the Buck Institute:
The Buck Institute, located in Novato, CA,  is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to extending the healthspan, the healthy years of each individual’s life.  The National Institute of Aging designated the Buck a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging, one of just five centers in the country. Buck Institute scientists work in an innovative, interdisciplinary setting to understand the mechanisms of aging and to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.  Collaborative research at the Institute is supported by genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics technology. 

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