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BSAAM's Anti Ageing Conference London 2018
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2017 Speaker List and Presentations
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2017 VENUE: The Kensington Town Hall - MAP
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  2016
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  2015
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  2013
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  2012
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Sept 12 Pre-Conference Workshop Programme
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AACL 2016 Speaker

Professor Donald Craig Willcox

Donald Craig Willcox, Ph.D. is Professor of International Public Health and Gerontology at Okinawa International University in Okinawa, Japan. Dr. Willcox is a fluent speaker of Japanese and has extensive cross-national experience in bio-cultural approaches to healthy aging, epidemiology, human nutrition and human population genetics. He is Co-Principal Investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian study, a 30-plus year, ongoing study of the genetic and environmental correlates of exceptional longevity that identified the first gene to be associated with human longevity (Takata et al. Lancet 1987) and numerous lifestyle factors important to healthy aging. He also has a long and successful track record of collaborative research with other studies on healthy aging around the world such as the Honolulu Heart Program, and the Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study, the study that first identified the association (since replicated in many other populations) of the FOXO3 gene with healthy aging and longevity in humans (Willcox et al. PNAS, 2008).

Professor Willcox has been successful in establishing cross-cultural research collaborations through the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging as well as projects supported by national funding agencies in Japan, such as the Japan Society for Promotion of Sciences, among other sources. He currently serves as a research consultant for the NIA-funded Hawaii Lifespan Study and Hawaii Healthspan Study. Both of these studies, and the Okinawa Centenarian Study are large, long term clinical epidemiologic studies of healthy aging with long track records of cross national research that possess the necessary experience and infrastructure to carry forward innovative projects in the area of healthy and successful aging.

Professor Willcox is a member of several academic societies devoted to research on aging such as the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). He has also been an invited participant at numerous international workshops that have focused upon identifying priorities in aging research such as the recent FUTURAGE workshop (Roadmap for Aging Research in the E.U.), and contributes as Associate Editor to numerous journals devoted to research on aging, such as Journals of Gerontology: Biological and Medical Sciences (GSA), Gerontology (International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics), BMC Geriatrics, Rejuvenation Research, and Mechanisms of Aging and Disease (Nature Publishing Group), among others. He recently guest edited a special issue on centenarian studies and their contribution to our understanding of the aging process and longevity, published in Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research.

Professor Willcox has several nominations for Who`s Who in Healthcare and Medicine in the past several years and has written two best-selling books (The Okinawa Program and The Okinawa Diet Plan) on healthy aging and longevity that translate his research findings into practical public health programs. The Okinawa Program was nominated for Best Wellness Book of the Year by Books for a Better Life and received further honors from both Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles as one of their Top Fifty Books of the Year for 2001. He also consults regularly for industry having recently consulted for Chanel, VHI Healthcare (largest private health provider in Ireland) and other well-known industry leaders in healthcare and anti-aging.

2016 - Longevity Genes: The Latest Findings

Genetic factors are clearly important for healthy aging and longevity in human beings, however, the discovery of “longevity genes” has presented numerous challenges. Candidate gene studies and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for longevity have been largely disappointing. Gene variants that affect risk factors for healthy aging and longevity, such as hypertension or diabetes, have been discovered but effects are generally small, with modest heritability. Only two genes have been identified in GWAS studies with large numbers of long-lived participants to show associations with longevity, Apolipoprotein E (APOE) and Forkhead Box O3 (FOXO3).  In peripheral tissues, APOE is primarily produced by the liver and mediates cholesterol metabolism according to the specific isoform (E2, E3 or E4). In the central nervous system, APOE is mainly produced by astrocytes and it transports cholesterol to neurons via APOE receptors, which are members of the low density lipoprotein receptor gene family.APOE is involved in Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease with the E4 isoform representing the major risk allele. FOXO3 locates in the insulin signaling pathway and encodes evolutionarily-conserved transcription factors that regulate multiple downstream target genes affecting a myriad of pathways involved in the aging process. For example, FOXO3 has been shown in model organisms to be involved in oxidative stress and ROS detoxification as well as apoptosis, DNA repair, and maintenance of the hematopoietic stem cell pool, among other important mechanisms involved in aging and age associated disease. Carriers of the longevity-associated protective allele (G allele) of the FOXO3 gene are protected against human mortality, principally through a large risk reduction for cardiovascular disease. This presentation will discuss the importance of risk (or protective) alleles in risk factor stratification and the potential clinical applications of this knowledge, as well as reveal potentially important therapeutic interventions that may promote healthy aging through targeting these genes and pathways with specific nutritional strategies. 

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