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Badgers in San Francisco: World Congress of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics

On July 23-27, 2017, approximately 6,000 experts in the field of aging research gathered in San Francisco, California for the 21st World Congress of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). "This meeting represented all aspects of aging research, from basic biology of aging to social aspects to clinical care," said Dudley Lamming, PhD, assistant professor, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. This sentiment was echoed by Luigi Puglielli, MD, PhD, professor, Geriatrics and Gerontology, who said, "IAGG was an excellent venue to keep up-to-date on trends in geriatric care, demographic trends, and expose yourself to the various databases and biobanks of samples for age-related research."

Dr. Lamming was one of at least four different research teams from University of Wisconsin-Madison attending the meeting. He presented two posters, one on a mouse study showing that a reduction in dietary branched chain amino acids improved metabolic health, ameliorated glucose tolerance, and decreased adiposity, and another mouse study showing an impact of female (but not male) sex hormones on management of hepatic insulin signaling and glucose homeostasis by a protein complex called mTORC2 that is of interest as a drug target for diseases of aging. "I personally got a great response to my posters from other researchers including several from companies in the aging and nutrition fields," said Dr. Lamming.

Rozalyn Anderson, PhD, associate professor, Geriatrics and Gerontology presented a talk entitled "Aging and Health Biomarker Discovery-Translational Insights from Nonhuman Primates" during a symposium on Biomarkers of Human Aging that was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health - National Institute on Aging. Her lecture focused on nonhuman primate studies of caloric restriction (CR). Molecular profiling of animals placed on CR diets, which increase longevity and improve metabolic health, allowed Dr. Anderson and colleagues to identify CR-responsive elements in the transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome. "These elements are highly enriched for metabolic pathways and in particular mitochondrial processes," she wrote.

"A strong message from this conference was that the aging population will be a paramount challenge to tackle in the next few decades," said Luigi Puglielli, MD, PhD, professor, Geriatrics and Gerotology. His group presented three studies. The first was a new progeria mouse model presented by Yajing Peng, PhD, assistant scientist, Geriatrics and Gerontology. The team hopes that this model will accelerate research on progeria, a rare, fatal genetic disorder that causes rapid aging-related conditions starting in childhood. A second project involves mechanisms of intracellular cross-talk, and a third involves the biochemical regulation of autophagy presented by Mark Farrugia, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Puglielli's laboratory.   

Representatives from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) also attended IAGG 2017. This study, which has spanned 60 years, includes social and genetic data from a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. "The data cover nearly every aspect of the participants’ lives from early life socioeconomic background, schooling, family and work to health, social participation, civic engagement, well-being, and cognition," wrote Pamela Herd, PhD, professor, LaFollette School of Public Affairs. Attendees of her symposium presentation were offered a USB stick containing documentation and the public data from the study. At least nine posters and talks at IAGG reported on studies using WLS data. 

Throughout the conference, attendees were received warmly by the worldwide aging research community. What is recognized as a unique strength of UW-Madison investigators? "The metabolic premise that underlies [our investigations]," said Dr. Puglielli. With deep expertise in the metabolic underpinnings of aging-related conditions and diseases, Badgers are dedicated to finding breakthroughs that promote healthy aging for people in Wisconsin and beyond. 

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- by Robyn M. Perrin, PhD, August 10, 2017