Posted on Dec 23, 2020, 9 a.m.
We get so focused on the future of aging research that we sometimes forget its long history. Many of our field’s roots can be traced back to Nathan Shock, Ph.D., a pioneering researcher who led NIH’s Gerontology Research Center for nearly 35 years. Known as the “father of gerontology,” Dr. Shock was instrumental in establishing NIA’s Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the world’s longest-running longitudinal examination of human aging. Today, through NIA’s Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence (NSCs), researchers carry on his legacy of scientific leadership across the nation.
Supporting basic research in aging biology
NIA’s Division of Aging Biology supports a network of NSCs across the U.S. Founded in 1995, the Nathan Shock Centers Program is part of the Research Centers Collaborative Network. The NSCs lead the pursuit of basic research into the biology of aging through funding aging biology research, conferences to convene leading and up-and-coming aging biology researchers, research resources and equipment, and networking opportunities. Each NSC supports a number of research core facilities that correspond to the center’s areas of expertise in aging biology, and funds pilot projects that leverage those cores. Through an NIA grant, The American Federation for Aging Research leads a Nathan Shock Center coordinating center to communicate NSC-funded advances, ensure data quality control and data sharing among the centers and with the larger scientific community, and evaluate NSC progress and opportunities.
NSCs at the cutting edge of aging science
This year, in addition to the renewal of all six currently funded centers, NIA awarded two new centers: one a collaboration between the Buck Institute and University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and the other at the Salk Institute in San Diego. Cores at all the centers are positioned to advance emerging technologies and priorities in aging biology, including:
- Single-cell technologies
- Next-generation geroscience technology platforms for aging biomarker discovery
- Innovative cellular models and analyses focused on the heterogeneity of aging
- Epigenetic aging and the mystery of why different types of human cells and tissues age at different rates and how that variability impacts overall health over time
To complement the research of the six renewed centers, researchers at both of the new NSCs will develop and support the latest approaches in computational biology.
Learn more about the NSCs!
Much like their namesake, the Nathan Shock Centers provide mentorship and inspiration for a new generation of scientists looking to tackle the mysteries of extending the happy and healthy later years of life. Visit the Nathan Shock Centers and NSC Coordinating Center websites to learn about pilot awards, conferences and workshops, and networking and career development opportunities for emerging aging biology researchers.
Article was written by Candace KERR, Health Scientist Administrator, Division of Aging Biology.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement