Einstein’s Nir Barzilai, M.D., an internationally recognized researcher on aging and one of this blog’s contributors, captivated a crowd of nearly 1,000 people at a September 27 TEDx event in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood.
His topic: “Grit”—what it is and how to get more of it.
Dr. Barzilai knows a great deal about resilience from his 16 years leading the Longevity Genes Project, an ongoing investigation into the genetics of more than 500 healthy centenarians and their children. Dr. Barzilai and his team have identified multiple gene variants that are associated with extreme longevity.
In his talk, “How to Die Young at a Very Old Age,” Dr. Barzilai detailed the benefits of extending “healthspan”—the number of years we are healthy and active. In addition to improving overall quality of life, there is an enormous cost savings in delaying the onset of age-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
“The problem is that a person is treated for one age-related disease but then comes down with another one in two years,” said Dr. Barziali. “The best way to tackle all these diseases is to address the underlying rate at which we age.” He stressed that more resources must be channeled into the study of aging itself, versus merely studying disease-specific results of the aging process.