The Potocsnak Longevity Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has launched the Human Longevity Laboratory, a longitudinal, cross-sectional study that will investigate the relationship between chronological age and biological age across different organ systems and validate interventions that may reverse or slow down the processes of aging.
“The relationship between chronological age (how many years old you are) and biological age (how old your body appears in terms of your overall health), and how they may differ, is key to understanding human longevity,” said Dr. Douglas Vaughan, director of the Potocsnak Longevity Institute. “Knowledge gained from this research may allow scientists to develop methods to slow the process of aging and push back the onset of aging-related disease, hopefully extending the ‘healthspan.’”
Anyone is eligible to participate in the Northwestern research study, but the scientists are focused on studying people who are disadvantaged with respect to biological aging, including those with HIV.
“We are particularly interested in bringing in people who are at risk for accelerated aging — people with chronic HIV infections, patients with chronic kidney disease, people exposed to toxic substances regularly (smoke and chemicals) and others,” Vaughan said. “Our primary aim is to find ways to slow down the rate of aging in people that are aging too quickly and provide them with an opportunity to extend their healthspan.”
The comprehensive research protocol includes assessments across various systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, neurocognitive, metabolic, and musculoskeletal), and novel molecular profiling of the epigenome. The studies will be performed at no cost to participants at Northwestern Medicine.
Over the next year, the team plans to enroll a diverse cohort representing individuals of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to form a picture of how aging affects all members of the population.
A participant’s results will be reviewed with them after their testing is complete. “That is information that might motivate some participants to improve their lifestyle, exercise more, lose weight or change their diet,” said Dr. John Wilkins, associate director of the Human Longevity Laboratory. Wilkins is also an associate professor of medicine in cardiology and of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, as well as a Northwestern Medicine physician.
Ultimately, the Human Longevity Laboratory will launch clinical trials designed to test therapeutics or interventions that might slow the velocity of aging.
View this site for more information on the study.