Mayo clinic researcher to speak at McMaster on aging and chronic diseases

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Dr. James L. KirklandPublished: January 20, 2017

Dr. James L. Kirkland, MD, PhD, a renowned geroscientist and expert on aging, has been named a Harry Lyman Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor at McMaster University.

He will lead two seminars on January 27—one for graduate and undergraduate students, and one for faculty members and researchers—focusing on cellular aging and the crucial role fat plays in health and age-related dysfunction.

Kirkland is the director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He is a board-certified geriatrician who cares for elderly patients and teaches medical students, interns, residents and fellows about geriatrics and aging.

The focus of Kirkland’s research is the impact of cellular aging (senescence) on age-related dysfunction and chronic diseases. Senescent cells accumulate with aging in diseases, such as dementia, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. His goal is to develop methods to remove these cells in order to alleviate or partially reverse age-related chronic diseases.

Kirkland’s 2015 paper, “The Achilles’ heel of senescent cells: from transcriptome to senolytic drugs,” published in Aging Cell, is the first article ever written about drugs that clear senescent cells.

“Dr. Kirkland’s contribution to the new field of geroscience to better understand the underlying mechanisms of aging in order to prevent and delay the onset of age-related diseases is novel,” said Parminder Raina, Scientific Director for the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) and the Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging (LCMIA).

“We are delighted to welcome him to McMaster to share his contributions to aging research.”

For his graduate and undergraduate seminar, Kirkland will explore how to best target aging processes in order to delay, prevent or treat chronic diseases and loss of resilience.

The seminar for faculty and researchers will narrow in on interventions targeting cellular senescence, the phenomenon where normal cells cease to divide. Jeremiah Hurley, McMaster University’s Dean of Social Sciences, will be the discussant for this seminar.

The free seminar for graduate and undergraduate students takes place on Friday, January 27 from 10 to 11 a.m. in room 4E20 of the Health Sciences Centre (HSC). The free seminar for researchers and faculty is from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in room 3020 of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery (MDCL). 

At the close of the afternoon seminar, the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging will host an Open House for attendees to learn more about the Institute and its associated funding opportunities.