F104 | The Science of Aging


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


1/21, 1/28, 2/4, 2/11, 2/18 & 2/25

Six Sessions 

This course is offered online via the easy-to-use Zoom program.

With many of us enjoying the privilege of living into our eighth, ninth, tenth decade and beyond, interest in the science of aging has greatly increased. We are honored to have speakers from distinguished institutions around the country to inform us about the latest research into aging and to answer our questions. This course was organized by Mary Jane Incorvia Mattina of OLLI's Changing Aging shared interest group.

Session 1, January 21: Mark Pettus, MD, Berkshire Medical Center

Supplemental Materials for Session 1: Pettus OLLI Aging Science Final.pdf and OLLI Aging Science Pettus Resources.pdf

In this introductory overview of the current state of longevity research, Dr. Pettus will review current theories of aging. He will translate the emerging life sciences linking lifestyle interventions with mitigation of age-related functional and biologic decline. Dr. Pettus will share some personal reflections on accessible practices that can leverage the science of aging and improve healthspan in everyday life.

Dr. Mark Pettus is a triple-board certified internist, nephrologist, and integrative medicine physician practicing for over 35 years.  He received his A.B. from Boston University and his M.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His postdoctoral training was at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Pettus currently serves as the Director of Wellness and Population Health at Berkshire Health Systems in western Massachusetts. He is the author of two books, The Savvy Patient: The Ultimate Advocate for Quality Health Care and It’s All in Your Head: Change Your Mind, Change Your Health. He serves on the teaching faculty at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine based in Washington D.C. and on the Board of Directors of The National Wellness Institute. His podcast,  The Health Edge is heard by people all over the world.


Lifespan: The Revolutionary Science of Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have ToDr David Sinclair.  [Thorsons, 2019]

The Blue Zones Challenge: Your Guide to a Healthier, Happier, Longer Life, Dan Buettner. [National Geographic, 2021]




Session 2, January 28: Mark Watson, PhD, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

In this lecture, Dr. Mark Watson, PhD, a research scientist at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, will discuss the molecular underpinnings of the biological aging process and connect this process to several major age-related chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. Through this understanding, scientists at the Buck and around the world seek to develop therapies to prevent or delay chronic disease. The Buck Institute, located in northern California, is  the world’s first biomedical research institution devoted solely to research on aging.

Dr. Mark Watson received his bachelor’s degree in biomedical science and his PhD in infection and immunity from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. His research focuses on the implications of mitochondrial ROS in initiating and exacerbating diseases as well as the involvement of intestinal health in aging. Dr. Watson serves as a Buck Ambassador, providing scientific outreach to the community.



Human Gut Microbiome Aging Clock Based on Taxonomic Profiling and Deep Learning (Galkin, et al 2020). 

DNA Methylation Clocks and Their Predictive Capacity for Aging Phenotypes and Healthspan (Bergsma & Rogaeva 2020).  


NIA’s Interventions Testing Program (ITP).

The road ahead for health and lifespan interventions (Gonzalez-Freire, et al 2020).

Session 3, February 4: Chris Wiley, PhD, Tufts University

Age is the single greatest risk factor for developing most degenerative diseases, including arthritis, dementia, and osteoporosis.  In this session, we explore the basic processes that drive aging, and how researchers at Tuft University's Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston use nutrition and lifestyle research to find new ways to protect people against these conditions.  We will introduce the basic aging process known as cellular senescence and discuss why targeting senescent cells offers real hope for preventing age-related diseases in the near future.

Dr. Christopher Wiley is a Scientist II in the Basic Biology of Aging Team at the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.  His research focuses on the role of metabolism and nutrition in cellular senescence, a form of cellular aging in which a cell adopts a permanent proliferative arrest, coupled to the secretion of a mélange of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, proteases, and oxylipins.  Dr. Wiley discovered a distinct form of senescence driven by mitochondrial dysfunction, known as mitochondrial dysfunction-associated senescence.  He also discovered that senescent cells promote clotting and coagulation and identified altered lipid metabolism as a major property of senescent cells.  Dr. Wiley recently identified a specific lipid, dihomo-15d-PGJ2, as the first known biomarker of senolysis.  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.



Session 4, February 11: Lisa D'Ambrosio, PhD & Taylor Patskanick, MSW & MPH, The MIT AgeLab

This class will focus on describing the longevity economy, including relevant demographic and sociological trends contributing to today’s construction and sociological understanding of old age. Multiple projects and research tools of the MIT AgeLab across domains such as housing, transportation, home logistics, artificial intelligence, caregiving, and wellbeing will be discussed and shared with class participants.

Dr. Lisa D’Ambrosio is a research scientist at the MIT AgeLab where she has worked for over 20 years. She has been involved in and has supervised many studies at the AgeLab across domains such as transportation and retirement. Dr. D'Ambrosio earned her PhD from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Taylor Patskanick is a Technical Associate II at the MIT AgeLab. Her research broadly explores generational and age demographic trends across domains such as housing, transportation and retirement planning. Taylor currently coordinates the MIT AgeLab’s 85+ Lifestyle Leaders Panel and contributes to the AgeLab’s AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System) program. Taylor also manages OMEGA (Opportunities for Multigenerational Exchange, Growth, and Action), an intergenerational summit and scholarship program. As a project investigator or co-investigator on several industry-funded grants in support of research on the longevity economy at the MIT AgeLab, Taylor frequently engages in multiple phases of the research process, whether contributing to proposal development, drafting literature reviews, developing study instruments, or analyzing qualitative or quantitative data to generate industry-specific insights.  She holds an MSW & MPH from Washington University in St. Louis.


"Sharing is Caring: The Potential of the Sharing Economy to Support Aging in Place," Carley Ward, Chaiwoo Lee, Lisa D'Ambrosio, & Joseph Coughlin.  [Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 2020]

The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market, Joseph F. Coughlin. [Public Affairs, 2017]

Session 5, February 18: Sofiya Milman, MD, Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine 

The class will cover research on healthy centenarians, describe examples of genetic basis for their longevity, and longevity-related biological pathways.

Dr. Sofiya Milman is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Endocrinology and Geriatrics and is the Director of Human Longevity Studies at Einstein’s Institute for Aging Research in New York City. Dr. Milman’s research focuses on a unique population of centenarians and their families who are generally free of age-related diseases. Healthy longevity runs in most of these families, suggesting a heritable basis for this phenomenon. Dr. Milman's team conducts translational research focused on the discovery of genomic mechanisms that regulate endocrine and metabolic pathways that protect against common age-related diseases, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's. She holds an MD from the SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine


"Dissecting the Mechanisms Underlying Unusually Successful Human Health Span and Life Span," Sofiya Milman and Nir Barzlai.  [Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine2015]

Milman - Science of Aging.ppt

Session 6, February 25: Cheryl Mustain, MSW, Baystate Medical Center

Health care disparities refer to differences in health care between groups linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantages.  Low socioeconomic patients face significant vulnerability regarding their health. This discussion will be directly relevant to chronic disease in underserved populations and how it relates to home-bound older adults in Baystate’s house calls program.  Why is it necessary for an interdisciplinary team?  What is included in medical visits?  How does our team address 5M’s (Multicomplexity, Mind, Mobility, Medications, What Matters Most)?  How might social determinants of health affect not only infectious disease, but chronic disease as well, and what does that include?

Cheryl Mustain is a Medical Social Worker at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.  She holds a certificate in Advanced Clinical Dementia Practice, the End-of Life Certificate Program, Dementia Practitioner certification NCCDP, Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker certification.  Abstracts accepted by the American Geriatrics Society include:  “Challenges, Opportunities and Outcomes of an Interdisciplinary Geriatrics Team in 3 Community Health Care Centers"; “Identification of Valid Advanced Directives and Need for Education in Older Adults in a Community Health Center”;  “Community Based Habilitation Therapy for Care Partners of Persons Living with Dementia”; “Challenges Implementing Satisfaction Survey Within an Interdisciplinary Team”; “What Matters (Goals of Care conversations)."  She holds an MSW from Springfield College in Springfield, MA.



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