SENS6 Speaker Highlight: Dr. Felipe Sierra

Posted by Daniel Kimbel on June 19, 2013 | Outreach

Unfortunately, Dr. Sierra will not be able to attend SENS6, but we are delighted that he will be replaced by the head of the Gerontological Society of America, James Appleby, speaking on the same topic.

While SENS6 will feature presentations by many esteemed and experienced researchers, Dr. Felipe Sierra stands out for his unifying vision and deep involvement in aging research.

Dr. Sierra grew up in Chile, where he earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry. He came to the United States to earn his PhD from the University of Florida, then left for Europe to do postdoctoral work at the University of Geneva. There, Sierra focused on gene expression and its mechanisms, the same topic he had studied as a graduate student. Aging research would only become an integral part of his career after his postdoctoral work was over, through his first job: a position at Nestlé. Dr. Sierra stayed in the field, going on to run his own lab at the Medical College of Pennsylvania before joining the NIH in 2002.

He is now the head of the National Institute on Aging’s Division of Aging Biology (DAB). The DAB studies the aging process itself; the remits of its various branches are genetics and cell biology, the effects of cellular and molecular changes on tissue function, and animal models of human aging. Instead of funding work about the mechanisms or progression of age-related diseases, the DAB supports work that elucidates why exactly it is that older adults suffer from these diseases while younger ones do not.

Dr. Sierra is also the founder and coordinator of the Geroscience Interest Group, or GSIG. The group spans the entire NIH, and is built on the idea that the basic biology of aging underlies many of the chronic age-related diseases -- Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and more -- that different divisions of the NIH focus on.

At SENS6, Dr. Sierra will give a presentation about GSIG and the fundamental process that underlies the diseases of aging. He will be joined at the conference by many other top scientists, including Harvard’s George Church, the Mayo Clinic’s Jan van Deursen, Carnegie Mellon’s Alan Russell, and MIT’s Todd Rider. To experience each of these talks in person, and enjoy the culture and history of Cambridge, you can register online. Seating and accommodations are limited, however, so we encourage you to secure your space soon.