The past two decades have seen major advances in understanding the basic mechanisms of biological aging. Simultaneously, there has been a rapidly growing appreciation of the importance of these mechanisms in human health and disease, which has been conceptualized by the term ?geroscience?. This term refers to the research approach that seeks to understand this fundamental relationship between aging and disease. With the rapid expansion in knowledge and interest in this field, there is a great, unmet need to train the next generation of scientific leaders at the interface of fundamental mechanisms of biological aging and clinically relevant age-related disease. This is the underlying, guiding theme of our proposed training program at the University of Washington. Our mission is to provide cutting-edge Training in Biological Mechanisms of Healthy Aging. This training program will seek to achieve this goal by providing outstanding trainees at the University of Washington with (1) rigorous training in cutting edge research focused on biological mechanisms of healthy aging, (2) exposure to, and the ability to critically evaluate, the breadth of knowledge, concepts, and approaches important in the field, and (3) the mentoring and skill sets necessary to achieve career success and become future scientific leaders. The program will support 6 pre- and 6 post-doctoral trainees. Our training program for both pre-and post-doctorates provides a rich environment in which we build upon the considerable strengths of our Faculty and our participating Departments and Programs. This includes aging- related courses, journal club, trainee research presentations, seminar series and support for attendance at national aging-focused meetings. We provide continuity of training by typically providing support for 3-4 (pre- doc) or 2-3 (post-doc) years. Predoctoral candidates ordinarily begin near the end of their 2nd year of graduate training and post-docs in their 1st year of post-graduate training. Trainees from this program will become skilled and motivated to work to increase the understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the processes that contribute to the burden of disease in aging, as well as contributing to the discovery of new interventions to prevent or reverse them.
Age is the single greatest risk factor for nearly all of the major causes of death and disability in the United States, including heart disease, most cancers, Alzheimer?s disease, diabetes and kidney disease. The relevance of this Training Program to public health is that we seek to train young scientists in research to understand the fundamental mechanisms of biological aging. It is our expectation that the scientists trained in our program will make significant contributions to improving health through the development of therapies that delay or prevent age-related diseases by directly targeting the molecular mechanisms of aging.