- Burnett School College of Medicine Faculty News
Dr. Michal Masternak, an associate professor in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, has been selected as a fellow of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the oldest and largest organization devoted to research, education, and clinical care in the field of aging. The honor recognizes Dr. Masternak’s research into healthy aging and his active membership in the society, which has members in 40 countries.
He will receive his formal award at the organization’s 67th annual meeting in November in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Masternak said he become fascinated with aging research because “all of us age; it’s a whole process we take for granted.” While much science is dedicated to specific age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, certain cancers and cardiac conditions, Dr. Masternak’s goal is to study mechanisms that not only make us live longer, but live healthier. Helping people live to age 100 or even 150 isn’t an advantage if that longer life is plagued by disease and suffering, he said.
One of his research projects includes working with genetically manipulated mice. They not only live about 60 percent longer, but they are delayed in getting age-related diseases, from cataracts to cancer to metabolic conditions. “We are trying to learn the mechanisms that not only make them live longer but live healthier,” he said. “Our goal is healthy aging.”
Another study shows that reducing caloric intake by 30 percent also appears to extend lifespan. As Dr. Masternak explains, “We should all eat less, for sure.”
The GSA fosters interdisciplinary partnerships between biologists, behavioral scientists, social scientists, healthcare professionals and policymakers to create new knowledge on healthy aging. The organization publishes gerontology’s preeminent peer-reviewed journals and brings more than 4,000 gerontology specialists to its annual scientific meeting. Its motto: “Research, education and practice…Where it all comes together.”