David Sinclair, PhD, is one of the world’s leading scientific authorities on longevity, aging and how to slow its effects. A professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging, David obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney in 1995 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T. where, among other things, he co-discovered the cause of aging for yeast.
PTN interviews him on the future of the word of anti-aging medicine and biotechnology, see the full interview below.
1) Briefly, how did you get involved in research related to aging?
Since I can remember, it has never made sense that we accept aging as a natural part of life. We fight other diseases that reduce health and happiness.
2) What you consider to be your most important discoveries? Would you include here your work on Sir2, SIRT1 and resveratrol?
I was fortunate to be part of the group that linked Sirtuins to aging. We also played a role is understanding how calorie restriction and exercise works to improve health and longevity, and showing that NAD levels control health and lifespan.
3) What was your motivation to co-found Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and how did its acquisition by GSK come about? How did this enhance your research?
I don’t like to publish papers and just have them sit on the shelf. My motivation in life is to make the world a better place than I found it.
4) What do you currently work on?
We have 30 projects. I’m particularly excited about a theory that may explain why we age and how to reverse it. We have had some success controlling the biological age of mice in the forward and reverse direction.
5) What is your take on public perception and endorsement with respect to efforts to extend human health span and life span? What do you see as the main fears and obstacles?
The public is becoming excited about the state of the science of longevity. Many people are educating themselves on the topic. Podcasts are helping. The fears are overpopulation and unemployment. These
fears are not based on calculations, just a gut feeling. And gut feelings are often wrong.
6) How would you describe current global picture of research on aging?
Many countries are increasing their spending on aging research as a way to counter the growing population of older people and as a result, the number of researchers is increasing.
7) What are the most promising developments in research and in human trials at the moment (in this area)?
NAD boosters, rapalogs and senolytics are in Phase I
8) Do you have collaborations or in depth communications with organizations such as SENS Foundation or Google’s Calico?
9) Where do you see your work in 5 and 10 years?
In 5 years I hope to have helped bring a medicine to market. In 10, I hope it’s more than one.
10) Where do you see the future of life extension and health span extension in general in 10 and 15 years and beyond?
Lifespan will continue to steadily increase. The future is going to be focused on age reversal not just age slowing. That way drugs that are developed can treat and not just prevent diseases.
11) What can you recommend to students looking to get into this field of work?
Do it. Get a PhD. Learn some bioinformatics. The aging field is really taking off!