Is immortality possible? If it is, is it desirable? Those are some of the provocative questions Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Nir Barzilai, M.D., recently explored before a live audience.
Dr. Barzilai, professor of medicine and of genetics, director of Einstein’s Institute for Aging Research and an attending physician at Montefore Medical Center, spoke at a screening of the documentary The Immortalists. The film highlights two scientists who believe humans can live forever.
While those views are considered to be in the extreme minority, mainstream scientists, including Dr. Barzilai, are learning a great deal about the components of longevity. During a discussion about the film, Dr. Barzilai talked about his research establishing that the gene variant leading to high HDL, or “good cholesterol,” is linked to healthy aging and extreme longevity. He also shared information about his LonGenity Study, which follows Ashkenazi Jews ages 95 and older, and their offspring, to learn what has allowed many in the study to live not just long lives, but lives marked by many years of good health, a concept known as a good healthspan.
Dr. Barzilai noted about the study participants, “Many smoked, ate poorly and didn’t exercise. But genetics played a role. So we look at the genes of these individuals to see what is protecting them from diseases that affect the rest of the population.”
Read more about Dr. Barzilai’s wide-ranging discussion and his research on aging at http://einstein.yu.edu/features/around-campus/388/insights-into-aging-and-living-a-healthy-life-longer/?pagenum=1.