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David Sinclair On Why We Age — And Why We Don’t Have To

Imagine a scenario where you hit middle age. You wake up each morning to aches and pains you didn’t know you could have. Your joints creak and crack in ways they didn’t in your younger years. You don’t pick up new knowledge or new skills as easily as before. You feel … old.

For most of us, this isn’t a difficult reality to picture.

Now, imagine you can hit reset, and your body returns to how it felt 10 years ago. And imagine living another decade, and hitting reset again. And again. And again.

This sounds like science fiction. It sounds futuristic. But Dr. David Sinclair’s work makes this much more realistic than you may have thought.

Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor and New York Times bestselling author, was the guest of honor for the ISB-Town Hall Science Series on Thursday. He joined genomics pioneer and ISB Co-founder Dr. Lee Hood for a conversation that covered the very latest in aging research. (You can watch their conversation by playing the video above, or by going here.)

Why We Age — And Why We Don’t Have To

The two esteemed researchers talked about Sinclair’s bestselling book, “Lifespan – Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To,” which was also the title of the event.

They discussed Sinclair’s information theory of aging. We are born with a pristine set of information that degrades over time. Our DNA is our digital code, and our epigenome – the system that controls how DNA is expressed, which genes are turned on or off, etc. – is analog. Sinclair uses the analogy of a DVD that stores digital information, and the head or reader in a DVD machine that is analog. He realized that our DNA reader is what often goes awry, and his lab has actually tapped into backup versions of original epigenetic copies.

Sinclair talked about longevity genes, and said we can think of them like our body’s Pentagon that we can call up and request troops.

“That’s what our bodies are actually doing when we exercise and go hungry,” Sinclair said. “We’re making a call to our body’s Pentagon to send out the repair troops. If you do that routinely, you’re going to have a longer life. This is what has been shown time and time again.”

When asked about what the typical human can start doing today, Sinclair suggested eating less often. He cited mouse research that showed when they ate was more important than what they ate. He also said that he – and his 81-year-old father – eat one major meal a day. Sinclair has dropped more than 20 pounds during the COVID pandemic because of this practice, and says he feels fantastic.

The conversation touched on a number of other topics, including exercise, drugs and supplements, and when to incorporate an (anti)aging regimen, and much more. “Even before we’re born, the clock is ticking,” Sinclair said. “Even if you look in the mirror and you don’t have wrinkles yet, trust me, you are getting older.”

About the Science Series

ISB and Town Hall Seattle have put on a number of virtual events focusing on a range of important scientific issues: STEM policy and advocacy, the politics of immunization, mining sewage to track population health, creating new senses for humans, and more. We will continue creating compelling events. To make sure you know of upcoming conversations, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for event updates.Your support is crucial to our quest to decrease the incidence rates of nearly every chronic disease through our unique multiomic research into aging.

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