Grant Establishes Buck Institute as a National Center of Excellence in Biology of Aging Research

$3.7 million award will support research cores; acknowledges Institute’s preeminent role in the study of aging and age-related disease

June 16, 2005 The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has established a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging Research at the Buck Institute, one of five in the nation and the first in California. The five-year $3,695,000 grant, announced today, will support specific core programs at the Institute, providing the strongest environment for the conduct of research on aging. The grant also establishes the Institute as a regional and national resource for others studying aging and age-related disease.  The grant was named for Nathan Shock, PhD, the researcher who established the science of gerontology and was the first scientific director of the NIA.

Huber Warner, PhD, the former Program Official for the NIA Biology of Aging Program, commended the Institute, saying “The Buck received one of the five best scores in the review process; we think it’s got one of the most outstanding gerontological research programs in the country and it’s a great place to have this prestigious award.”  Warner is now an Associate Dean for Research at the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences.

The Shock Center grant will further the Institute’s mission to extend the healthy years of life by funding underlying technologies and programs that support all of the Buck scientists currently study aging and age-related diseases. The four technological research cores include: genomics, proteomics, cellular imaging/morphology and transgenic services. In addition, a research development core will establish special postdoctoral research programs and research seminars.

Buck Institute President, Dale Bredesen, MD, will be the administrator of the Shock Center. “We are grateful to the NIA for its recognition of the Buck Institute’s research program and strategic development,” said Bredesen. “Having a Shock Center at the Institute will ultimately help us to fuel a fundamental change in medicine, from ‘reactive aging’ to ‘strategic aging,’ in which genetic markers of lifespan determination and diseases will be discovered and used to increase the healthy years of life.”

The genomics core, directed by Simon Melov, PhD, produces DNA microarrays which allow scientists to study data from gene-based experiments. Proteomic services, headed by Bradford Gibson, PhD, targets pathological processes associated with protein structures in aging systems. Imaging services, under the direction of David Nicholls, PhD, allows investigators to monitor real-time changes in cell function. Transgenic services, headed by Junli Zhang, MD, create mice that have been genetically altered, enabling the study of genes that underlie aging and disease processes. While the research cores are primarily designed to support Institute research, some services will also be made available to other research organizations, furthering the Buck Institute’s efforts to become a regional and national resource center for the study of aging and age-related disease.

David Greenberg, MD, PhD will direct the research development core. “The unifying objective of the Shock Center is to enhance and extend our research programs,” said Greenberg. “We have plans to support the career development of junior faculty and to promote pilot projects that have outstanding potential to advance knowledge of the basic biology of aging.”

The other Shock Centers are located at the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas in San Antonio, and Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor Maine.

The Buck Institute is the only freestanding institute in the United States that is devoted solely to basic research on aging and age-associated disease. The Institute is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to extending the health span, the healthy years of each individual’s life.  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 conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and stroke.  Collaborative research at the Institute is supported by genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics technology.

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