becomes scarce? Along with this, we also concluded that challenges, or stresses, should become part of the lab environment. As one group member pointed out, when a doctor is trying to determine what members of a group of males have a bad heart, he doesn’t take their resting EKG; he throws them onto a treadmill to see how their heart acts under stress, and how long it takes for it to return to homeostasis. A similar stress test should be done with lab animals; lab mice should see a cat every once in awhile, especially if they are showing promising results in aging studies. Just as stress is one of the best determining factors for heart conditions, stresses are critical for better, more thorough lab experiments.

Public Sentiment

The point was raised that informal comment sessions have shown the public isn’t particularly keen to live longer. In our discussion we assumed that that’s because they assume a longer life will also include a longer frailty period. But we believe that increased healthspan is part and parcel of aging studies; there is no point in having humans live longer if they are incapacitated. While scientists understand where the lay audience is coming from, they fear that their concerns will negatively affect aging research. There was also consensus that while scientists at some point need to make it clear—without overextrapolating—how their research in fruit flies relates to humans, it is not up to them to market their research to lay audiences.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement