Institute for Ageing

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U.S award for ageing research expert

Emeritus Professor Kirkwood, has been formally recognised by the National Institute on Aging, part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

Excellence in the biology of ageing 

Across the United States of America, The National Institute on Aging funds Nathan Shock Centres for Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. Named in honour of the former director of the Gerontology Research Centre in 1960s and 1970s, the Nathan Shock centres recognise commitment and excellence in ageing research. The Gerontology Research Centre was the forerunner of the National Institute on Aging which was formed in the late 1970s, initiating the Centre’s outstanding research into ageing research.

In addition to the funding of the Centres of Excellence, the Nathan Shock fund also supports an award and lecture series for individuals recognised as having made a significant and positive contribution to the field of ageing research. These awards commemorate Nathan Shock's scientific legacy and are the most prestigious award from the National Institute on Aging.

The award this year has been given to Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood, the first non-U.S scientist to have received this since the awards began.

Recognising Newcastle’s ageing reputation

Emeritus Professor Kirkwood is considered one of the leading experts in ageing research, particularly since his arrival at Newcastle University as Professor of Medicine in 1999 where he began to develop the foundations for Newcastle’s outstanding reputation for the biology of ageing, or bio-gerontology.

Over the past two decades he has dedicated his time to developing an understanding of how genes and non-genetic factors such as nutrition influence longevity and health.

He has advised government, has been a special adviser to the House of Lords, and published more than 250 scientific papers, much of them stemming from his fundamental progress in discovering why and how ageing occurs. His influential ‘disposable soma’ theory shows that although the human body is genetically programmed for survival, not death, it was never an evolutionary priority to make a body that might last forever. The Newcastle 85+ Study, which he began in 2006 and is still ongoing, is studying in unprecedented detail, the many factors that influence how ageing plays out in our ever-lengthening lives.

His reputation in the field of bio-gerontology reaches across the globe; with his work being highly regarded by colleagues in the U.S and beyond.

Being given the Nathan Shock award by colleagues in the National Institute on Aging is just one of the accolades he has received of late.

Emeritus Professor Kirkwood commented: “It is a great honour to receive such prestigious recognition, particularly by my peers. The recipients of this particular award are decided upon by a vote cast amongst all scientific staff within the National Institute on Aging, and I am humbled that I was chosen as their recipient.”

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published on: 14 December 2016