and epigenetic regulation of functional capacity as manifested at the cellular level will provide models to understand senescence and its regulation in a wide variety of cell and tissue types. Insight into these regulatory factors will yield substantial dividends in terms of the prevention of and therapy for the illnesses and disabilities of older individuals.
Biomedical research has only recently begun to examine the role of gender, race, and ethnic background and the relevance of those issues to altered trajectories of aging. The gender differential in lifespan is one fundamental issue that needs clarification. In developed countries, for example, females enjoy a substantially greater average lifespan. Although a major reason for this difference perhaps can be attributed to lifestyle differences (smoking, alcohol, violence, and fat ingestion), other reasons for the female lifespan advantage are obscure. For other mammalian species it is still not clear whether a consistent gender differential in lifespan really exists. In any case, sociobehavioral factors perhaps are crucial in these effects and in the gender differential in the incidence of many age-related disorders.
Another crosscutting issue is that of ethics. What are the ethical considerations in doing basic biomedical research? What about the ethical questions attendant upon genetic engineering? In 1990 human gene transplants became a reality. What are the ethics concerning those gene transplants that might prevent the development of age-related dysfunctions but that might as well have adverse effects on younger individuals?
Finally, there is and will continue to be a need for regularly updated interdisciplinary education, which should be developed at several levels of sophistication and targeted for a range of professional specialization in health caregiving and administration.
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Dice, J. F., and S. A. Goff. 1987. Error catastrophe and aging: Future directions of research. Pp. 155-168 in Modern Biological Theories of Aging, H. R. Warner, R. N. Butler, R. L. Sprott, and E. L. Schneider, eds. New York: Raven Press.
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