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A better understanding of old age

13 March 2006

Scientists are meeting today (13 March 2006) in London to discuss the outcomes of over £9M of research into ageing. Research highlights include:

  • The effect of genes and smoking on mental agility of older people
  • How stress and trauma in older people can make them more susceptible to infections
  • Insights into the premature ageing disorder, Werner syndrome, which causes accelerated ageing and premature death
  • A greater understanding of how the human immune system degrades with age

The meeting, hosted by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), will provide an opportunity to discuss future challenges and directions for research in ageing. The meeting will be attended by policymakers, healthcare professionals, patient groups and parliamentarians as well as leading scientists in the field of ageing research.
The scientists will be discussing the outcomes from two BBSRC initiatives: the Science of Ageing and Experimental Research on Ageing. Through these initiatives BBSRC has invested just over £9M to investigate ageing in species ranging from fruit flies to humans and how this knowledge can be applied to a healthier old age for people. Projects funded under the initiative included the genetic influences for natural ageing, the effects of DNA damage and repair, and the role of diet, stress and exercise on ageing.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said, ‘As people in the UK are living longer than ever before, “ageing well” is increasingly important in determining quality of life. The Treasury has identified changing population demographics as one of five key challenges facing the UK. The research being presented today demonstrates how science can help to meet this challenge.’

Professor Goodfellow commented, ‘The meeting today provides an excellent opportunity for members of the research community to come together with healthcare professionals and patient groups to identify future priorities for ageing research.’


The Dissemination Meeting of the two BBSRC ageing research initiative will be held on Monday 13 March, 12.00pm-5.30pm at the Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park, London, NW1 4LE. 

Members of the media are welcome to attend the Dissemination Meeting.

Notes to editors

The £5M Science of Ageing (SAGE) initiative launched in 1998 sponsored 29 research projects.  The science of this initiative looked at the biochemistry of stress, repair and damage accumulation in the cells of our body.  Projects also investigated the ageing of biological systems, such as the nerve and immune systems and researched ageing across the population and evolution.

The £4.15M Experimental Research on Ageing (ERA) initiative launched in 2001 sponsored 20 projects.  Projects under this initiative followed the genetics of normal ageing and investigated the possibilities for interventions in ageing. Projects also researched ageing in non-human organisms.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382