related disorders as familial Alzheimer's disease (St. George-Hyslop et al., 1987).

Finally, scientists are increasingly aware of the intellectual challenges posed by biogerontology as a major uncharted frontier of biology.

The committee believes that elucidation of the biological mechanisms of aging is an achievable goal. The major recommendations that follow focus attention on a broad array of important areas of investigation that are both feasible and critical to our knowledge of aging and its basic processes.

Three main criteria were utilized in the selection of the research priorities in the field of basic biomedical investigation:

  1. Feasibility of the research in the context of current advances in the biological sciences: Enough is known to permit immediate expansion of existing efforts in these areas and to plan for and develop the resources needed during the next decade. Expansion of these research areas will have an immediate impact on the understanding of a number of aspects of the aging process.

  2. Importance of these research areas insofar as potential findings can be applied to the treatment of major disabilities of later life: In the examples discussed, the committee believes that biomedical research eventually will lead to prevention of these disorders.

  3. Potential of the research areas selected to catalyze a cascade of productivity in many other areas of health research, including areas outside of aging that share technology or concepts with gerontology.


  • The committee proposes a major new initiative to achieve understanding of the basis for the pervasive disturbances in the regulation of proliferative homeostasis that accompany aging in essentially all animals, including humans.

These disturbances in proliferative homeostasis, a fundamental process responsible for appropriate replacement of cells that have become lost either because of exposure to toxins or because of endogenous physiological processes, play major roles in cellular regeneration and repair and in the genesis of several of the most important age-related human disorders: cancer, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and altered immune function (Martin, 1979). This new major national initiative should be comparable in emphasis and scope to the NIA's highest research priority—Alzheimer's disease and the neurobiology of aging.

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