Dr. Nir Barzilai Presents Study on Longevity at DOROT

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Renowned researcher and expert on longevity shares his insights

DOROT leadership with Dr. Barzilai

Dr. Nir Barzilai; Nancy Rankin, DOROT Board President; Donna Jakubovitz, President Elect; Mark Meridy, Executive DirectorDOROT leadershi

"I am so excited to be part of a study that could improve the health of people as they age."

On the evening of Monday, March 16th, DOROT, a nonprofit organization working to prevent social isolation among older adults in New York, hosted Dr. Nir Barzilai, the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging and of the Nathan Shock Center of excellence in biology of aging. Dr. Barzilai spoke to a crowd of 65 DOROT supporters about his current study on the genetics of longevity and the biology of aging.

Dr. Barzilai is studying Ashkenazi Jews who are approaching or exceeding age 100, and their offspring, to identify genetic markers that may indicate or lead to longer lifespan. He opened his talk by pointing out that many illnesses that humans experience in their lives are experienced at old age, and so if one could eliminate the factor of aging, one could possibly eliminate those illnesses. He went on to explain that he does not want to stop aging, but he wants to increase the ability of individuals to age healthfully and well. Dr. Barzilai spoke of research participants who were siblings in their early 100’s and had been partaking in risky behaviors (cigarette smoking, poor diet, etc.) for decades, but who had still experienced good quality of life at advanced age. He used these individuals as examples of how long lifespan could possibly be genetically linked. He also identified a number of other possible factors for longevity, including: shorter stature, heavier frame, hormones, and nutrition.

Guests asked thoughtful questions such as whether Dr. Barzilai had taken happiness into consideration, or whether the longevity genes were more predominant on maternal or paternal sides. After the talk, guests were able to individually ask the presenter more personal questions. Attendees were delighted at the opportunity. One guest said, “The lecture by Dr. Barzilai was the best lecture I have ever heard on the aging process. I went up to him after his lecture and told him I was the son of a centenarian. He told me to contact him; I did and have been accepted into his current study! I am so excited to be part of a study that could improve the health of people as they age.”

In addition to a thought-provoking lecture, guests got to meet one another and learn more about DOROT as well as about upcoming volunteer opportunities. One told us, “The whole experience of the evening at DOROT was one of dignity and beauty! My wife and I plan to participate in some of your volunteer programs.”

DOROT became connected to Dr. Barzilai through a volunteer who brought the study to the attention of Executive Director, Mark Meridy. Meridy met with Dr. Barzilai and agreed to help him find participants for his study, as both the doctor and DOROT have similar missions: to help older adults live well and independently long into advanced age.

“It was an honor to host Dr. Barzilai at DOROT,” Meridy said. “Our guests found his talk engaging and thought-provoking, and we look forward to a continued relationship with him and the rest of the team at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.”

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Audrey Stein
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