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The 21st Longevity Prize of the Fondation Ipsen will be awarded to Kaare Christensen

The Fondation IPSEN Longevity Prize will be given this year at the GSA meeting (Gerontological Society of America), in New Orleans on November 19th, 2016. The international jury chaired by Professor Thomas Kirkwood (Newcastle University, UK and Copenhagen University, Denmark), have unanimously decided to award the prize to Kaare Christensen for his pioneering work on the importance of genes and environment in aging and longevity.

Kaare Christensen, MD, PhD, DRMSC, is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark and Senior Research Scientist at the Terry Sanford Institute, Duke University, North Carolina, USA. Dr. Christensen is the Director of the Danish Twin Registry and the Danish Aging Research Center. He has conducted a long series of studies among twins and the oldest-old in order to shed light on the importance of genes and environment in aging and longevity. Furthermore, he has a longstanding interest in the relation between early life events and later life health outcome.

Abstract of his lecture: “Is Mortality written on the face? Or Elsewhere?”

Predicting length of life is of interest to individuals, medical doctors, demographers and researchers on aging. While most people would probably be uncomfortable with an exact prediction at an individual level (if that were possible), the identification of factors associated with health and survival can potentially provide the basis for decision making, interventions and public health initiatives. A series of “the usual suspects” is known to be associated with health and survival, e.g. birth cohort, gender, smoking and other life style factors, genetics, early life and socioeconomic factors. Over the last decades, this list has been extended with biomarkers of aging that include performance measures and molecular markers such as leukocyte telomere length and DNA methylation age. We have used nationwide cohort studies of twins, oldest-old individuals and long-lived families in Denmark to understand variance in health and survival and to identify clinically useful biomarkers of aging. Perhaps surprisingly, we have found that among the elderly, simple, low-tech biomarkers, including perceived age based on photos, are among the most powerful indicators of aging.

The Longevity Prize

Created in 1996, this Prize of the Fondation Ipsen has been awarded every year to renowned specialists in Longevity:

Caleb E. Finch (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Vaïno Kannisto (Odense University, Denmark) , Roy L. Walford (formerly University of California Los Angeles, USA), John E. Morley (St. Louis University, USA), Paul B. and Margret M. Baltes (formerly Free University of Berlin, Germany), Justin D. Congdon (University of Georgia, Aiken, USA), George M. Martin (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), James W. Vaupel (Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany), Linda Partridge (University College London, UK), Sir Michael Marmot (University College London, UK), Cynthia Kenyon (University of California, San Francisco, USA), David J.P. Barker (University of Southampton, UK), Gerald McClearn (Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA), Jacques Vallin (French National Institute of Demography, Paris, France), Judith Campisi (Buck Institute for Age Research, Novato, USA), Thomas Kirkwood (Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), Linda Fried (Columbia University, New York, USA), Gary Ruvkun (Harvard Medical School - CCIB, Boston, US), Luigi Ferrucci (National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore, USA) and Steven N. Austad (University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA).

Members of the jury

Thomas Kirkwood, President (Newcastle University, UK Copenhagen University, Denmark), Judith Campisi (Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, USA), Eileen Crimmins (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Caleb Finch (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA), Bernard Jeune* (University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark), George Martin* (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), Yasuyuki Gondo (Osaka University, Japan), Jean-Marie Robine (INSERM, Démographie et Santé, Montpellier, France), Bruno Vellas (University of Toulouse, France), Marja Jylhä (University of Tampere, Finland), Steven N. Austad (University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA), Luigi Ferrucci (National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, USA) and a Fondation IPSEN representative.

(* Former Jury Members).

The Fondation IPSEN

Established in 1983 under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the ambition of the Fondation IPSEN is to initiate a reflection about the major scientific issues of the forthcoming years. The long-standing mission of the Fondation IPSEN is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge by fostering interaction between scientists and clinicians. It has developed an important international network of scientific experts who meet regularly at meetings known as Colloques Médecine et Recherche, dedicated to three main topics: neurosciences, endocrinology and cancer science. Moreover the Fondation IPSEN has started several series of meetings in partnership with the Salk Institute, the Karolinska Institute as well as with the science journals Cell and Science. The Fondation IPSEN produced several hundred publications and more than 250 scientists have been awarded prizes and grants.


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