GRG News for 2012-2014

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As of June 16, 2013, there were 489 members.

Hour Glass Hour Glass

Our News Section could just as well been called a blog (short for web log), but this now-popular phrase didn't exist until very recently in the last few years. Our blog is a chronological listing of news items with source references for each one interspersed with editorial remarks as we see fit to give us some perspective on where the field of gerontology is moving, even by scientists who would never refer to themselves as gerontologists.

Click for News from earlier years: 1998-1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011;

GRG Names Gertrude Weaver, 116, the New ‘Oldest Living American’ Titleholder

Gertrude Weaver & Robert Young
July 4, 2014; The Gerontology Research Group of Los Angeles, California has awarded Mrs. Gertrude Weaver, 116, the title of “Oldest Living American,” retroactive to December 17, 2012, when Dina Manfredini of Iowa passed away at age 115. Jeralean Talley, 115, of Inkster, Michigan, was previously thought to be the titleholder. Robert Young and Mark Muir were honored to be present for her 116th birthday celebration. Robert Young had the honor of awarding Ms. Weaver the “Oldest Living American” title.

For more information about this announcement, please click here.

"GRG Members No. 1, 2, and 3"

Drs. L. Stephen Coles, Steven M. Kaye, and Robert Nathan
Sunday, April 20, 2014; 2:00 PM; A short one-hour visit to Bob Nathan's home in Pasadena, CA.

"Friends of the LA-GRG"

Friends of the GRG
Saturday, April 19, 2014; 7:30 PM; Friends of the GRG at dinner in Manhattan Beach, CA.

"Epcot Center in Orlando, FL

Steve Coles at the Epcot Center
Thursday, April 17, 2014; Noon, EDT; Steve Coles at the Epcot Center (Disney World) in Orlando, FL.

"Dr. Coles Gives the Distinguished Lecture on Supercentenarians at the Florida Hospital in Orlando, FL

Drs. Antonio Novello and L. Stephen Coles, Distinguished Lecture on Aging Dr. L. Stephen Coles, Distinguished Lecture on Aging
Dr. L. Stephen Coles, Distinguished Lecture on Aging
Thursday, April 16, 2014; 10:00 AM (two hours) and 6:30 PM (one hour) EDT; Dr. L. Stephen Coles gave the April Distinguished Lecture on Aging at the Florida Hospital in Orlando, FL at the invitation of Dr. Antonio Novello, M.D., former US Surgeon General.

"Prof. Douglas Melton of Harvard Gives IMED Seminar at UCLA"

Drs. Stephen Coles and Douglas Melton
Wednesday, April 9, 2014; Noon; Prof. Douglas Melton, Ph.D., Director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Xander University Professor at Harvard, Member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, spoke on the topic of "Making Pancreatic Beta Cells." He showed that hiPSC's can make Islet Beta Cells today in his lab at the billion cells espansion after years of frustrating blind alleys and false-start hypotheses. One original idea that came out of the Q&A session that may impact the organ transplantation/rejection problem is the use of an HLA protein known to protect embryos/fetuses from the Mothers' immune system that might be used to make xenographic organ transplants appear to have the same protection as fetuses by coating foreign tissue with this type of HLA protein. A curious factoid during the lecture was that if there were no apoptotic Programmed Cell Death in the tissues containing our replicative cells and they continued to divide at their normal rates, the volume of our future bodies would be the equivalent of 70 Earths after one year of incredible exponential expansion. So, thank goodness for cell turnover and the recycling of old, senescent cells. Of course, we need to examine the consequences of keeping lots of senescent cells around as they age (that consume oxygen and nutrients without making a contribution to the tissue function, in those tissues in which they are embedded, as they may have once done) in older tissues without having them be recycled and replaced by fresh cells.

"Prof. George Church Gives IMED Seminar at UCLA"

Prof. George Church in 1977 Prof. George Church at MIT
Prof. George Church, Ph.D. Book: Regenesis by Church Drs. Coles and Church
Wednesday, March 26, 2014; [Noon - 1:00 PM] PDT; Geneticist Prof. George Church of Harvard University spoke to a full auditorium at today's UCLA IMED Noon Seminar on the topic of "Technologies for Reading and Writing Genomes." In particular, he spoke about CRISPER/Cas9 technology as well as the new BRAIN Initiative which he helped initiate with his early Neuron paper, Vol. 74 (November 21, 2012) that led to President Obama's announcing it in his 2013 "State of the Union Address" as a Grand Challenge." Finally, he intimated that they were collaborating with a commercial venture from Miami, FL on the complete sequencing of 30 Supercentenarians, while showing a slide of Madam Jeanne Calment smoking a cigarette.

"Doctor Performs Autopsy on U.S. Retirement System: The Likely Cause of Death: 'Failure To Raise the Retirement Age,'"

Gil Weinreich
March 20, 2014; [9:30 - 10:15] AM; Telephone interview of Dr. Coles by Mr. Gil Weinreich of Think Advisor and Editor-in-Chief of Research Magazine.

Other References:

1. CDC Mortality Tables
2. Life Expectancy by Country.

"Investigation of an Alleged 122 yo Monk from a Coptic Monastery in Ethiopia"

L. Stephen Coles Video Interview
Saturday, March 15, 2014; [2:00 - 5:00] PM PDT; Dr. Stephen Coles was interviewed by CNN Reporter Alan Duke concerning a Monk who claimed to be 122 yo. This claim is now being investigated by the GRG (that has a history of skepticism regarding extreme longevity claims). Our Monk died last year, but not before he was interviewed by two experts who prepared a lengthy video documentary for the occasion.

"Prof. Noam Chomsky of MIT Lectures at UCLA"

Prof. Noam Chomsky, Ph.D. of MIT Prof. Noam Chomsky, Ph.D. of MIT
Friday, March 14, 2014; [Noon - 1:00 PM] PDT; Emeritus Prof. Noam Chomsky of MIT lectured at UCLA about the state of the world. As a computational linguist, he is most noted as the father of Transformational Grammar which he created back in 1965 but now mostly as a Left- Wing anti-war protester against both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

"Dr. Stephen Coles Lectures at a Local Synagogue"

Prof. L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D. at a Local Synagogue Prof. L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D. at a Local Synagogue
Wednesday, March 12, 2014; [10:00 - 11:15] AM PDT; Prof. Coles lectured to an audience of ~30 members at the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles near the Getty Museum off the 405 Freeway.

"Dr. Aubrey de Grey Visits Los Angeles, CA"

Dr. Aubrey de Grey at the Podium
Saturday, March 8, 2014; [9:30 AM - 3:00 PM] PST; The Plato Society of Los Angeles held its Annual Milhaupt Symposium at the Mount St. Mary's Catholic College in Los Angeles, CA. The Panelists included Dean Pinchas Cohen, M.D. of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Executive Director of the Andrus Gerontology Center, who spoke on the topic of "The Aging Revolution: Longevity in the 21st-Century."
Dr. Laurie Zoloth, Ph.D., McCormick Professor of Bioethics at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL who spoke on the topic of "Utopia Is Hard Work: Duty and Freedom for the 120- Year Old."
Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., Biomedical Gerontologist and Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation who spoke on the topic of "In a future Free of Age-Related Disease, Longevity Is a Welcome Side Effect." and
Dr. JoAnn Damron-Rodriguez, Ph.D., Professor of the UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology who spoke on the topic of "A Critical View of the Societal Aspects of Extreme Longevity,"
After lunch and Breakout-Room Discussions, Dr. Gary Small, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Aging and Director of the UCLA Longevity Center spoke on the topic of "Strategies for Living Longer and Better."

"Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D. Visits UCLA"

Drs. Steven A. Rosenberg and L. Stephen Coles
Thursday, March 6, 2014; 12:00 Noon; Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Surgery Branch of the NCI at NIH in Bethesda, MD spoke on the "Curative Potential of T-Cell Immunotherapy for Cancer" to a packed audience with students sitting on the floor in CHS 73-105. Tumor sequences are now know to contain an average of 234 mutations. About 25 mutations don't even fit into a pattern, but are unique to each patient. The support for this new cutting-edge data will appear soon in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Photo by N. Coles

"J. Craig Venter: IMED Seminar at UCLA"

Drs. J. Craig Venter and L. Stephen Coles Natalie S. Coles and Dr. J. Craig Venter
Wednesday, February 26, 2014; 12:30 PM; Dr. J. Criag Venter gave the weekly IMED Seminar at UCLA on the topic of his book "Life at the Speed of Light." He also mentioned that [30 - 40] percent of all the essential genes identified in the human genome [those whose knock-outs are lethal] have an unknown function. He also mentioned that the human biome contains 10,000 unique bacterial genes (in addition to the 20,000 human genes we know about) that are activated by the food we eat. Many of the protein gene products cross the BBB.

"Russian Visitors"

Drs. Alex Zhavornonkov and Steve Coles
January 15, 2014; 2:30 PM; Dr. Alex Zhavornonkov and Dmitry Kamensky, a wealthy Russian banker who recently funded a Biology of Aging Laboratory at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) visited Los Angeles on their way from Hong Kong and then on their way to Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, MD. They neglected to update their calendars, having crossed the International Date Line, and got to visit me at UCLA one day earlier than planned! - - Steve Coles

"Prof. Eric R. Kandel, M.D. Lectures at UCLA"

Prof. Peter C. Whybrow, M.D., Director of the UCLA Semel Institute Slide Eric Kandel, M.D.
Thursday, November 14, 2013; [4:00 - 6:30] PM; Prof. Peter C. Whybrow, M.D., Director of the Semel Institute introduced Prof. Eric R. Kandel, M.D., Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his work in memory-encoding in the brain, author of several textbooks, and Kavli Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, was the inaugural Leo Rangell Visiting Scholar for 2013 based on an endowment made possible by Lynda and Stewart Resnick to the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA to an audience of over 600 persons in the brand new Palisades Ballroom of Carnesale Commons (Prof. of Physics Albert Carnesale was a former Chancellor at UCLA). Kandel was born in 1929 in Vienna and came to the US at age 9. His title was "The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain from Vienna 1900 to the Present Day." He surprised the audience with a number of common optical illusions, the obscure fact that there are six distinctly-separated areas of the monkey brain involved in face recognition (even cartoons of faces) within temporal/parietal regions and that these regions are highly interconnected, and finally that so called mirror neurons light up motor areas in the brain of someone watching someone else carry out motor actions in the real world, like walking or picking up an object. The level of dopamine rises significantly in the brain when you are shown a photo of a loved one, but it goes off-the-scale when you are rejected by your significant other. The lecture was followed by a reception in which Dr. Kandel graciously answered questions from all parties.

"PSR-LA Meets with Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Boxer's Staff"

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's LA Office Sen. Barbara Boxer's LA Office
Thursday, November 7, 2013; [10:45 AM - 3:30 PM]; Ms. Rebecca Griffen, Political Director of Peace Action West of Oakland, CA, Ms. Farideh Kioumehr-Dadsetan, President of the International Health and Epidemiology Research Center of Sherman Oaks, CA, Dr. L. Stephen Coles, Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility - LA in Los Angeles, CA, and Rick Wayman, Director for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation of Santa Barbara, CA met with Mr. Trevor Daley, State Director of US Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Staff in the morning (Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles) and Mr. Rafi Nazarians, Senior Field Representative of US Sen. Barbara Boxer in the afternoon (downtown LA in the top floor of Federal Court House on North Spring Street) regarding the proposed refurbishment of our stockpile of ~500 B61 Nuclear Weapons based in Europe (B61 Life Extension Program [B61 LEP]) [US$12 billion] and the W78/88-1 Interoperable Warhead (joint USAF and Navy)[US$[12-13] Billion] project as well as the issue of conducting diplomacy over newly-proposed economic sanctions on the government of Iran despite the desire of the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to come to an agreement with the West about their nuclear-energy program and its potential for building dangerous weapons of mass destruction.

"15th Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine Conference"

Florence Comite, M.D. L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.
Friday, November 1, 2013; [8;05 - 8:30] AM and [11:15 AM - Noon] PDT; Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Florence Comte, M.D. received the 2013 Alan P. Mintz Award for Clinical Excellence in Age Management Medicine. Dr. Coles gave the keynote address on Clinical Genomics for Age Management Medicine. There were 500 Registrants, 36 Faculty Members, and 55 Exhibitors.

"Prof. Joel Buxbaum Gives Lecture at UCLA"

L. Stephen Coles, M.D. Title Prof. Joel Buxbaum, M.D.
Thursday, October 24, 2013; 4:00 PM; Prof. Joel Buxbaum, M.D. (R) of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA gave a lecture on the topic of "Aging, Protein Aggregation, and Neurodegeneraton: On the Paradoxical Effect of TTR (Transthyretin) on Neurons and Alzheimer's Disease" to ~50 attendees at the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute. He was introduced by Dr. Stephen Coles (L) who hosted him for the day.

"2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine"

2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine James Rothman,
Randy Schekman, and Thomas Sudhof

Work on 'cell traffic' and disease triggers wins Nobel prize; Juleen Zierath (R), Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Medicine or Physiology, speaks during the announcement of the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology at the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm October 7, 2013. A portrait of U.S. scientist James Rothman and drafts of his work are displayed on a screen during a news conference at the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Monday, October 7, 2013; Reuters - Janerik Henriksson - TT News Agency; Randy Schekman, a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, smiles in this undated handout picture provided by the university on October 7, 2013. REUTERS-Peg Skorpinski University of California, Berkeley Handout via Reuters.

Niklas Pollard

Stockholm, SWEDEN (Reuters) - - Three U.S.-based scientists won the Nobel medicine prize on Monday for plotting how vital materials such as hormones and brain chemicals are transported within cells and secreted to act on the body, giving insight into diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer's. Americans James Rothman, 62, Randy Schekman, 64, and German-born Thomas Südhof, 57, separately mapped out one of the body's critical networks that uses tiny bubbles known as vesicles to ferry chemicals such as insulin within cells.

The system, which also describes how vesicles transport molecules to the cell surface for secretion, is so critical and sensitive that errors and disruption in the mechanism can lead to serious illness or death.

"Without this wonderfully precise organization, the cell would lapse into chaos," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement when awarding the prize of 8 million crowns (US$1.2 million).

"Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Südhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo." For example, their research sheds light on how insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, is manufactured and released into the blood at the right place at the right time, the Nobel Committee said in the statement. Diabetes and some brain disorders have been attributed at least in part to defects in the vesicle transport systems.

Rothman is Professor at Yale University, Schekman is a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, while Südhof is a Professor at Stanford University. The three, working separately, adopted quite different approaches to the problem, reflecting their own scientific specialties.

"How Cells Work"

"My first reaction was, "Oh, my god!" said Schekman, who was woken with the good news in the early hours of his morning. "That was also my second reaction," he added, according to a Berkeley University statement.

Suedhof, a U.S. citizen, professed similar surprise. "It blew me over," he told Reuters. "Every scientist dreams of getting a Nobel prize. It's something I often tell my kids. If you lose your dreams you lose your reason to live."

Medicine is the first of the Nobel prizes awarded each year. Prizes for achievements in science, literature, and peace were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel.

Südhof said the work was really about "cell traffic," the ability of cells to move material around. "We have met each other many many times and argued and sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed," he said of his fellow prize winners. "We really work in quite distinct areas of science."

Prof. Patrik Rorsman of Oxford University said the award was timely and well deserved. "It is such a fundamental process they have studied and explained. Their discoveries could perhaps have clinical implications in psychiatric diseases, but my guess is that they will be more useful for the understanding of how cells work."

The committee said the work could help in understanding immuno-deficiency, as well as brain disorders, such as autism.

Schekman, a geneticist, first became interested in how proteins move within cells in 1974. At the University of California, Berkeley, he began working on yeast, a single cell microorganism. Research showed his findings applied equally to human cells. Among Schekman's research aims is to study whether the accumulation of the protein amyloid in the brains of Alzheimer's Disease patients is due to disruption of the vesicle system.

Südhof, a Neuroscientist, has focused particularly on the brain and questions of human thought and perception, emotions and actions determined by signaling between neurons, cells which constitute the foundation of the nervous system. "I'm interested in understanding how is it possible for one cell to talk to another ... This field is one of the most fundamental fields involved in understanding how the brain works, which is one of the most important questions in biology today."

Jeremy M. Berg, Director of the Institute for Personalized Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said the research had tackled key questions of how molecules are directed by vesicles to the cell wall and secreted to act on the body. "You can't understand anything about how the brain works without understanding this process. You can't understand anything about hormone secretion without understanding this process.

"It's one of the prizes for which there is not a treatment that came out of it directly, but there are probably literally thousands of laboratories around the world whose work would not be taking place the way it is without their work."

"What Was Prometheus Thinking?"

Steve Coles Dr. Mark Griffith, Ph.D. Drs. Steve Coles and Mark Griffith
Saturday, September 21, 2013; 2:00 PM PDT; Prof. Mark Griffith of the Classics Department at UC Berkeley received his Ph.D. in Greek and Latin Literature from Cambridge, UK and gave a lecture to a full auditorium of ~100 persons on "Defying Zeus To Help Humans: What Was Promtheus Thinking?" at the Getty Villa located in Malibu, CA.

According to the myth, when Prometheus (a Titan who used logic to anticipate the consequences of his actions) stole fire from the gods on Mount Olympus and provided it to humans as a gift. In retaliation, Zeus punished him eternally by impaling him through the rectum, channing him to rock, and sending an eagle to eat his liver every day (while it grew back every night). This myth is documented in the play by Aeschylus called " Prometheus Bound" (part of a trilogy), as it was presumably performed in Athens, GREECE c. 425 BCE (a democracy even before Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great). Prometheus tells the Chorus that he not only gave humans fire but also taught men many of the civilizing arts, including writing, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, metallurgy, architecture, and agriculture, so we have to guess that he must have liked us. But Zeus is again angered when Heracles releases Prometheus from his torment ~300 years later, and after an argument ensues in which Prometheus refuses to reveal the name of one of Zeus's rivals, Zeus strikes him dead with a thunderbolt and plunges his body into an abyss. (Sigh!)

And what about Epimetheus, a Titan brother of Prometheus (who was a rationalizer and who only had excuses after the fact [his name means "after thought" while his brother's name means "fore thought"])? As another punishment, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora, the first woman, as a means to deliver evil into the the domain of men. Despite the warnings of his brother, Epimetheus happily received her as his bride, but as soon as she arrived she lifted the lid of a jar entrusted to her by the gods, releasing a plague of harmful demons (spirits) upon mankind. Our only hope, Elpis, remained behind to facilitate the continuation of our unfortunate mortal race that otherwise would have been extinguished.

The Judeo/Christian/Islamic creation story in Genesis (Chapter 2) in which Adam and Eve are punished by being expelled from the Garden of Eden, has similarities (like defying God and then being punished), but discovering how to make clothing clearly doesn't have the same technological significance as discovering how to make a fire - - not only to keep warm but to cook meat. Why isn't the story of "fire" written into the Old Testament along with other "just so" stories like "The Tower of Babel" to explain why there are different spoken languages or "The Flood," in which God allegedly created a rainbow just as a message after a rain for us to appreciate that He will keep His promises? Privately, Prof. Griffiths speculated that the Israelis had political reasons for not including the creation myths of their adversaries in their version of creation, lest their children credit their rivals with greater intelligence than their own parents (Hebrew tribes vs. their rivals). Of course, the two different creation myths written down in Genesis are never reconciled and both probably date back to an oral tradition that may have been told as stories thousands of years before. One can imagine that there were arguments about which version of creation ("Seven Days" vs. "The Garden of Eden") should be included in the written (sacred) text, so they included both of them as a compromise without giving special treatment (priority) to one or the other.

" CNN-TV Interview on a Bolivian Man's Exaggerated Claim To Be 123 yo"

Dr. L. Stephen Coles
in CNN LA-HQ in Hollywood, CA
Wednesday, August 21, 2013; [9:49 - 9:55] AM PDT; Click on the photo for the CNN-TV Interview (TRT = 6 min. edited down to 2:30 min.) of Dr. Stephen Coles by Mr. Rafael Romo, Senior Editor of CNN in Atlanta, GA on the exaggerated claim of Mr. Carmelo Flores Laura from the high Andes Mountains of BOLIVIA, alleged by family and Bolivian government officials to be the world's oldest person [living or dead] at age 123 yo, exceeding the Guinness Longevity record of French women Madam Jeanne-Louise Calment, who died in 1997 at the validated age of 122 yo. No one has come close to her extreme age in the last 16 years, and it is unlikely to happen that another supercentenarian will exceed this record in our lifetimes. This is why we call the limit of 125 +/- 3 years the maximum human potential lifespan by the name The Calment Limit, a limit that appears to be encoded in the human genome (3.1 GBP's [Giga Base Pairs] of DNA), since extreme longevity is now known to be inherited, even though any of us could be struck by lightning or hit by a truck while crossing the street, and this limit is regardless of one's normal lifestyle (smoking, drinking alcohol, gender, race, geographical location, occupation, religion, diet, exercise program, etc.), despite the fact that the human population is increasing exponentially [the base of the pyramid] and that average life expectancy in all developed countries has systematically increased in a linear fashion for many decades (filling out the volume of the apex of the pyramid, and thereby increasing the number of healthy centenarian individuals in the pool who could potentially exceed the Calment Limit).

US life expectancy in the year 1900 was only 49 yo, while today in the year 2013, it's 78 yo - - a more than 50 percent increase. We know the reasons why the Top-Ten Diagnoses for Causes of Death (on Autopsy) in the US have shifted for the last century from childhood infections (due to the discovery of vaccines), bacterial epidemics (due to the discovery antibiotics coupled with hygienic public-health measures for separating chlorinated/fluorinated drinking water from sewage), and obstetrical complications (due to the availability of C-Sections based on surgical sterile-technique under general anesthesia as well as an understanding of the "ABO" RBC-antigen system for type-and-cross-matched blood transfusions, which didn't come into its own until after WW-I) to be replaced with chronic conditions, like heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, diabetes, and Alzheimer's Disease, for which there are few "silver bullets." Interventions in the aging process itself are the most likely means to provide further advances in actuarial, population-mortality statistics, rather than trying to cure one disease at a time, now that all the "low-hanging fruit" has been exploited. However, there is no current agreement among biogerontologists about how to do this. They're all like the proverbial blind men touching the elephant each with his or her own understanding of how to solve the problem and, of course, each asking for funding to follow their personal agenda.

In the mean time, we must remain skeptical about claims of extreme longevity that magically appear in illiterate populations without proper documentation, despite the wishful thinking of home boosters for their local areas with access to newspapers and TV stations that have access to the Internet that now are able to get our attention. See the WWW.GRG.ORG Supercentenarian Section on the left index, for Incomplete or Fraudulent Claims for more details about Longevity Myths that fall in the same category as "The Lock Ness Monster," where demographers were not present to contradict claims of extreme old age in hard-to-travel-to locations with seductive, romantic-sounding names like Shangri La.

"Aging and Longevity Demographics in Central America"

Dr. Coles in San Cristobgal de las Casas, MEXICO Ministers of SRE
Friday, June 21, 2013 [1:45 - 2:10] PM CDT; Dr. Stephen Coles gave a lunch-time talk on supercentenarians and the demographics of aging to ~50 Delegates and Ministers of Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia at their one-day conference in San Cristobal de las Casas, the historic capital of the Mexican State of Chiapas (in the highlands South of Mexico City and not too far from Guatemala).

Professor John Gurdon

Sir John Gurdon, UCLA Sir John Gurdon, UCLA

Friday, May 17, 2013; 4:00 PM; Sir John Gurdon, 79, of Cambridge, University; UK, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012 for work in embryology that he did while at Oxford University, lectured to a Special UCLA Embryology Club on "Nuclear Reprogramming in Oocytes" hosted by Prof. Eddy De Robertis.

"Oregon Health Sciences Uses Cloning for hESC's"


May 16, 2013; Portland, OR (Oregon Health Sciences University) - - As published in the journal Cell [1], Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D. and his team of 23 scientists at OHSU have taken us one-step closer to the therapeutic cloning of human stem cells [2, 4, 5] using the same technique that Dr. Ian Wilmut used to bring us Dolly, the Sheep in 1996; it's called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). BTW, the human cloning work was funded by a French Foundation and not by NIH, which did fund Mitalipov's earlier cloning work with monkeys. This is only worthy of mention in the context of the bioethical and legal controversy regarding the presumed destruction of human embryos and the position of the Roman Catholic Church/HolySee/Vatican/Pope(s) on this matter [3].

Prof. Irving Weissman, M.D. of Stanford University said "The new results are extremely important." Dr. Robert Lanza, M.D., CSO of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), called the work "... a major scientific achievement." Due to the uncertainty regarding iPSC technology and the potential for tumor-formation/immune-rejection, "SCNT may be the only way to truly reprogram cells [for autologous therapeutic purposes]." Dr. José Cibelli, Ph.D. of Michigan State University said, "It will only be a matter of time before this work will be tested therapeutically in monkeys." Dr. Michael D. West, Ph.D., said that "One of the tricks described in the paper is to use caffeine [to slow the tendency of human egg cells in culture to begin mitotic divisions prematurely that apparently doomed prior efforts with human cells], the Starbucks Effect!"

There were a significant number of complaints by subsequent critics about the figures (redundancy) and the figure-captions that went with the paper but nothing that would invalidate the work or require a retraction. The take-home lesson for all of us is that landmark papers like this one should not be rushed into print or posted on-line before they are fully vetted by reviewers, since many readers will be rigorously scrutinizing the paper, even if they were not direct competitors located at other labs.


1. Masahito Tachibana, Paula Amato, Michelle Sparman, Nuria Marti Gutierrez, Rebecca Tippner-Hedges, Hong Ma, Eunju Kang, Alimujiang Fulati, Hyo-Sang Lee, Hathaitip Sritanaudomchai, Keith Masterson, Janine Larson, Deborah Eaton, Karen Sadler-Fredd, David Battaglia, David Lee, Diana Wu, Jeffrey Jensen, Phillip Patton, Sumita Gokhale, Richard L. Stouffer, Don Wolf, and Shoukhrat Mitalipov, "Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer," Cell, Vol. 153, No. 6, pp. 1228-38 (May 15, 2013) Click for the paper at Click for a video at YouTube . From the video, it looks easy, and one doesn't get a feeling for how difficult manual dexterity, technical skill, and extensive experience must be in carrying out the task of puncturing the oocyte membrane and driving a nucleus (from a skin-cell punch biopsy [with emulsified cells separated] into the enucleated oocyte cytoplasm and then using a "secret sauce" of chemical cytokines for nutrition and one or more jolts of a small DC electric current to trigger the onset of mitotic divisions (without over-differentiation) to form a cell-line in an incubator with the proper CO2/O2 atmosphere, body temperature, and darkness without being disturbed for a specified period of time {and playing the correct classical music in the background :-) }. One must use a two hands independently on sensitive position controllers, and a suction air hose with one's mouth while examining the specific cell of interest through a high-power microscope on a highly stable platform with shock absorbers.


a. Cytoplasm of human oocytes reprograms transplanted somatic cell nuclei to pluripotency;
b. NT-ESC's can be efficiently derived from high-quality human oocytes;
c. Human NT-ESCs are similar to ESCs derived from fertilized embryos.

2. Melissa Healy, "Stem Cells Are Made by Cloning Method," The Los Angeles Times, pp. A1, 13 (page 1 above the crease) (May 16,2013).
3. Op-Ed, "The Specter of Human Cloning," The Los Angeles Times, p. A17 (May 17, 2013). The last sentence implored, "Adding a clear prohibition [with a law in California to make reproductive cloning illegal] would help to assure the public that stem-cell research should be embraced, not feared"
4. Gautam Naik, "Experiment Brings Human Cloning One Step Closer," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1,2 (May 17, 2013).
5. Andrew Pollack, "Cloning Is Used to Create Embryonic Stem Cells," The New York Times, p. A17 (May 16, 2013).
"Researchers fused skin cells with donated human eggs to create human embryos that were genetically identical to the person who provided the skin cells."

"Health Freedom Expo Panel on Longevity"

Panel Panel
Sunday, March 3, 2013 [2:00 - 3:30] PM PST; An expert panel for a public audience of ~100 focused on human longevity and was held at the Health Freedom Expo located at the Long Beach Convention Center. The panel was entitled "Longevity: How to Make 100 the New 50 (Stem Cells, Cytokines, and Telomeres)." This panel, led by pioneers in their field, provided an exciting tour of the most recent discoveries in the key fields that impact how we age and explored the very real possibility that we can STOP AGING as we now know it. The Panel was moderated by Ms. Greta Blackburn and included, Drs. Aubrey de Grey, L. Stephen Coles, Bryant Villeponteau, and Gregory Fahy, along with Daniel Holtz and David Kekich.

"Prof. Stephen Coles Lectures at USC"

Prof. L. Stephen Coles Prof. L. Stephen Coles Prof. L. Stephen Coles Prof. L. Stephen Coles

Thursday, January 31, 2013; 12:00 PM; L. Stephen Coles presented "Not My Last Lecture" (originally "Supercentenarians: Secrets of the Oldest Old") Noontime Multidisciplinary Research Colloquium on Aging at USC Davis School of Gerontology and the Andrus Gerontology Center in downtown Los Angeles. Prof. Caleb E. (Tuck) Finch, Ph.D. sat in the first row.

"Profs. Stephen Coles, S. Jay Olshansky, and Leonard Hayflick Attend GSA Conference"

Profs. Coles, Olshansky, and Hayflick
Saturday, November 17, 2012; 7:30 PM PDT; Profs. L. Stephen Coles, S. Jay Olshansky, Leonard Hayflick, Bruce Carnes, David Staats, M.D. (Geriatrician), and Jacob Seagle (Demographer and Author of a standard text on actuarial sciences) met for dinner to discuss future funding of basic research in gerontology in connection with the 65th Annual GSA meeting in San Diego, CA.

"Prof. Leonard Hayflick Keynotes AMMG Conference"

Prof. Leonard Haylfick, Ph.D.
Friday, November 2, 2012; 8:30 AM PDT; Prof. Leonard Hayflick, my instructor in Medical Microbiology at Stanford University in 1974 (38 years ago), is acknowledged to be one of the top ten gerontologists in the world today for his discovery of what we now call "The Hayflick Limit" (the limit on the number of replications of fibroblasts as a function of minimum telomere length was shown to be 50 +/-10). I invited him to present as our Keynote Speaker at a four-day AMMG Conference in Las Vegas, NV at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. - - Stephen Coles

"The Biology of Aging Is Now Understood"


The belief that aging is still an unsolved problem in biology is no longer true. To understand this belief, it is necessary to define the four phenomena that characterize the finitude of life : (1) aging; (2) the determinants of longevity; (3) age-associated diseases; and finally (4) death. Age changes can occur in only two fundamental ways: Either (1) as the result of a purposeful program driven by our genes or (2) by stochastic (random) accidental molecular events.

The weight of evidence indicates that a gene-driven program does not govern the aging process; it is the stochastic or random loss of molecular fidelity that does. Potential longevity is determined by the energetics of molecules present after reproductive maturation, including those that compose the repair machinery involved in turnover, synthesis, and maintenance. The repair and synthesis processes that exceed the appearance of dysfunctional molecules prior to reproductive maturity then shifts so the spread of energy described in The Second Law of Thermodynamics [entropy] that creates an excess of dysfunctional molecules, begins to exceed repair capacity and the thermodynamic instability characteristic of the aging process begins. The maintenance, repair, and synthetic pathways that maintain the fidelity of molecules produced before and after reproductive maturity determine longevity. Unlike the stochastically-driven aging process, longevity determination is governed by the human genome. Furthermore, the aging process is fundamentally distinct from age-associated diseases.

Unlike diseases, age changes occur (a) in every multi-cellular animal that reaches a fixed size in adulthood; (b) and cross virtually all species barriers; (c) in all members of a species only after the age of reproductive maturation; (d) in all animals removed from the wild and protected by humans even when that species probably has not experienced "aging" for thousands or even millions of years; (e) in virtually all animate and inanimate matter; and (f) with the same universal molecular etiology -- that is, thermodynamic instability. Unlike aging, there is no disease or pathology that shares all six properties. Because this critical distinction is rarely understood, the enormous imbalance of resources spent more on studying age-associated disease than conducting research on the fundamental biology of aging cannot be expected to increase our knowledge of the aging process.

He also mentioned privately that "Studying the longevity of lab mice is like studying creatures from Mars! Studying highly inbred lab mice as opposed to wild-type mice doesn't tell us very much about the fundamental basis for natural aging."

"Chinese Government Delegation Visits UCLA"

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D. Ivy Xiao, UCLA Translator
Chinese Delegation
Chinese Delegation
October 31, 2012; Associate Prof. Fu Wei of Bejing and Rong Li, Deputy Director General of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China hosted a delegation of 30 persons visiting UCLA as part of a tour of the USA. Dr. Coles presented the latest statistics on extreme world wide longevity. Ms. Ivy Xiao of UCLA served as a translator for the group.

"Healthy Aging: Taking Control of Your Life Seminar"

Prof. David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. Telomere Erosion
Saturday, October 27, 2012; [10:00 AM - 4:30 PM] - - The UCLA Longevity Center (Prof. Gary Small, M.D., Director) presented a one-day seminar at The Olympic Collection in West Los Angeles. Keynote speaker Prof. David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., FACP, FACN and Director of the Center for Human Nutrition spoke on "Nutritious Eating and an Active Lifestyle for Healthy Aging." The second slide demonstrates the concept of telomere erosion and the Hayflick Limit.

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.
Profs. L. Stephen Coles (UCLA) and Howard Friedman (UC Riverside) then hosted a session on "The Centenarians - - Life Past the Century Mark: A Look at the Art and Science of Living Past 100 and the Characteristics of Centenarians."

"Douglas C. Wallace Seminar at UCLA"

Profs. Douglas Wallace and Stephen Coles
Thursday, October 25, 2012; Prof. Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D. of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute in Pennsylvania presented a 4:00 PM Molecular Biology Institute Seminar on the topic of "A Mitochondrial Etiology of Complex Diseases: Verification Through Mouse Models."

"Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford Gives Noon IMED Seminar at UCLA"

Prof. Richard Dawkins, Ph.D. Charles Darwin
Tuesday, October 9, 2012; Prof. Richard Dawkins of Oxford presented a Noon IMED Seminar at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine to a packed NRB Auditorium on the topic of "Darwin's Five Bridges." This was one of Dawkin's best lectures ever and the challenging Q&A afterward by a few adversaries was handled in a masterful fashion. Click on his photo to watch his lecture on the Internet.

"2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine"

Shinya Yamanaka and John Gurdon
Monday, October 8, 2012; Profs. John B. Gurdon of the UK and Shinya Yamanaka of JAPAN shared this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in so-called Cellular Reprogramming, which has unleashed a wave of advances in everything from cloning to the possible treatment of diseases using stem cells.


1. Gautam Naik, "Stem-Cell Scientists Win Nobel Prize," The Wall Street Journal, pp. A1,2 (October 8, 2012).
2. Eryn Brown and Jon Bardin, "Nobel Prize Honors Two Stem-Cell Research Stars: An Old Hand from Britain (79) and a Younger Japanese Scientist (50) Profoundly Altered Beliefs about Biology," The Los Angeles Times, pp. A1,8 (October 9, 2012).
3. Nicholas Wade, "Cloning and Stem Cell Work Earns Nobel," The New York Times, pp. A1,9 (October 9, 2012).
4. "Gurdon Gets an 'F' in Science in Grade School with Instructions Not To Waste His Time," CNN Anderson Cooper 360 (October 9, 2012; 5:58 PM PDT; TRT=2 min.)

"LA Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility September Gala"

Stephen and Natalie Coles
Sunday, September 9, 2012; [6:30 - 10:30] PM; PSR-LA Board Member L. Stephen Coles M.D., Ph.D. and Natalie Coles at thye September Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel.

"Longevity 8 International Conference in Toronto"

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.
Panel Discussion in Waterloo
Friday, September 7, 2012; 8:30 AM EDT; Dr. Coles was invited to present the keynote address "Secrets of the Oldest Old" to the Longevity 8, the Eighth International Longevity Risk and Capital Markets Solutions Conference in Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA, to 160 attendees from 16 counties. The Conference and sponsored by the world-wide insurance and pensions industry. Click on the second photo of the Panel Discussion for more details.

"Book Signing at 40th Annual Cancer Convention"

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.,
Saturday, September 1, 2012; [1:00 - 5:30] PM; Sheraton Universal Hotel in Hollywood, FL Dr. Coles does a book signing at the 40th Annual Cancer Convention.

"Oldest Male Panda Dies in Berlin Zoo"

Bao Bao dies at 34 yo
August 21, 2012; Bao Bao, the oldest known male panda died in Berlin at the age of 34 yo. Click on his photo for more details.

"20-Hour UCLA Course on Human Longevity and Successful Aging"

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.
Friday, August 10, 2012; 10:00 AM PDT; Classroom 320; 1010 Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood, CA; Dr. Coles completes a 20-hour course on "Successful Aging for the Individual and for Society" with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) of the UCLA Extension Program for 22 adult students.

"Immunology of Aging"

Steve Coles and Doron Melamed, Ph.D.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012; 7:30 PM; Prof. Doron Melamed, Ph.D., an immunologist at the Technion in Haifa, ISRAEL [the Israeli equivalent of MIT and CalTech combined with the exception that there is a medical school across the street {Rambam Hospital}] who lectured in Beverly Hills at the home of Joan and Arnold Seidel for the American Technion Society, spoke on "Turning Back the Clock: An Approach to Reversing the Aging Process." Melamed's Lab has proven the hypothesis that the increasing immune incompetence with age and the decline in B-Cell Lymphocyte numbers (the cells that synthesize antibodies) is not due to the capability to synthesize new B-Cells in the bone marrow compartment (in the peripheral blood, these cells last only about two weeks before being replenished), but due to the increase in the numbers of "Memory Cells" (which last for decades and are the cells that are created after immunizations, for example, to give one permanent immunity to certain disease-causing microbes). Memory Cells provide transcription factors that serve as a negative feedback loop on the production of fresh B-Cells. If the large numbers of Memory Cells that increases with exposure to more and more antigens over a lifetime could be cleared out then maybe the machinery to create more B-cells could be turned back on. This is exactly what happened in a group of tens of mice that Melamed's Lab tested using a drug called Rituxan. Unfortunately, a full life-history experiment was not performed to verify that the experimental mice lived statistically-significantly longer than controls due to cost considerations. Rituxan is a chemotherapy drug (that is administered by IV in a hospital or clinic once a week for a period of [4 - 6] weeks frequently in combination with methotrexate) that is indicated to treat Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Melamed is working with hematology oncologists to test the immune function of patients with lympoma who are taking Rituxan already to identify the Transcription and Complement Factors that control the synthesis of fresh B Cells. This work serves as a proof of concept for future research.

"Wired Photo Shoot"

Wired Photo Shoot
Monday, August 6, 2012; 1:30 PM; Professional Photographer, Mr. Gregg Segal of Altadena, CA under contract to Wired Magazine, shot 218 digital camera portrait photos in three hours at the UCLA Lab of Drs. Eric Vilane, M.D., Ph.D. and Ruth Baxter, Ph.D. of Stephen Coles for a story on aging research. The story is expected to appear in the October issue of Wired.

"Where is Heaven Located?"

Getty Panel
Grim Reaper
L. Sephen Coles
Monday, July 26, 2012; [7:30 - 9:30] PM; Los Angeles, CA; The Getty Center Museum and Zocalo Public Square presented a Distinguished Panel discussing the topic "What Does Heaven Look Like?" to an audience of over 200 visitors in the Harld M. Williams Auditorium.

The Takeaway: Heaven's Nice, But Hell's More Fun To Paint!
Human depiction of the afterlife is as varied as our diverse cultures.

Where's heaven? What's it like? Who gets in? And what tortures await those of us who land in the alternative destination?

It was revealed that there are at least two heavens: (1) a "Celestial" Heaven which lies somewhere high up in the sky (over the rainbow); and (2) a "Terrestrial" Heaven that corresponds to the "Garden of Eden," as described in Genesis, assuming that you can find it (BTW, the East Gate of the Garden is guarded by an Archangel with a "flashing and flaming sword" (so, a heavy-duty angel, not a Cupid with tiny wings) to ensure that no mortal human(s) reenter after we were expelled for our "original sin" (eating from the "Tree of Knowledge" when we explicitly prohibited from doing so) as we were tempted by the serpent and lest we eat from the second tree - - the "Tree of Life" - - and become like us {immortal?} [the only occasion in the Bible, to my knowledge, that God speaks of Himself as a "plural" entity {leading us to conclude that Heaven may be populated by a pantheistic "tribe of gods" who preexisted the creation of Adam and Eve. If you're looking for a plot for a new Bible story, here it is! Wait - - Wasn't this written down by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, as something that we now call mythology, but which for them was the real thing?}]).

Since your spirit (soul), which presumably leaves the mortal body at the time of your death, and your body which decays almost immediately with the onset of death (which must be rendered as youthful and "perfect") are to be reunited (integrated) in Heaven (assuming you're deemed worthy and admitted by Saint Peter to pass through the "pearly gates") in order for you to "be with God," this would present a paradox of sorts, depending on how you died. For example, if you were eaten by a pack of wolves as the "cause of your demise" then the wolves would have to regurgitate your body parts before assimilating them into their wolf bodies so that these parts could be properly reassembled and magically transformed into a youthful form. Could you fine tune this scenario further, as you ostensibly meet with all of your long lost relatives who predeceased you back to the time of Adam and Eve, whom you haven't seen in a while but can now fill in on what you and they have been doing since you last saw each other on Earth, even if you weren't born before they died so you never intersected in time? BTW, is there a divine news service to track the activities of our heavenly hosts and the hierarchy of angels who live there in harmonious bliss, so that we can be brought quickly up-to-date upon our arrival into the next life?

Also, where will the 40 virgins be found to fulfill the promise made to male Islamic suicide bombers when they martyred themselves with an explosion to kill the non-believers with a guaranteed ticket to "Paradise." What if there are not enough virgins in Heaven to go around? Maybe their Islamic Heaven is in a different place and the virgins in question were never real women on the Earth.

This leads to another paradox of sorts... If the conditions for admission require that you have been baptized as a Catholic and have had a ritual of Last Rights administered by a priest before you die, what about the innocent babies who were born but died of a disease before they could be baptized. At one time it was assumed that they resided in "limbo," anther location between Heaven and Hell that awaited Jesus to determine their disposition at the end of time (whenever that would be). Jesus has dominion over a great many things (as explained in Revelation , the last book of the New Testament).

"Purgatory" is another concept that requires some fine tuning. The panel's conclusion was that the concept of Heaven (and Hell) is a fuzzy, slippery slope that can lead you down any direction you chose.

Here are some more details...

Scholars of religion, history, and art asked these questions during a panel discussion at the Getty Museum, in which they explored the ways different societies have imagined and depicted the afterlife and what the images we create of Heaven and Hell say about life on Earth.

Producer and documentary filmmaker Jody Hassett Sanchez opened the conversation by asking UCLA Buddhism expert Robert Buswell where, according to the Buddha, the heavens are located.

"There are many different heavens in the Buddhist system," said Buswell as many as 27. But they don't have a geography: the heavens are a level of rebirth, like existence as a human being or an animal. In fact, going to heaven is "kind of a consolation prize" for Buddhists. The real goal is to experience nirvana, which can't be located, measured, desired, or experienced.

In medieval Christianity, heaven is above, while hell is below. There's an opposition between going up and going down, said Martin Schwarz, the curator of the Getty exhibition "Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages." And while hell is usually depicted with a lot of detail in medieval art, heaven is shown with much less specificity it's not in one particular place.

On the other hand, for Native American tribes of the West, heaven was something very literal, said UCLA anthropologist Peter Nabokov. In Pueblo Indian society, there is no idea of sin, so everyone gets into heaven. A picture of heaven he found contains a certain number of trees, a pile of dead rabbits for an imminent feast as well as corn being harvested. In heaven, your ancestors are also waiting for you.

Quoting Belinda Carlisle "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" Hassett Sanchez asked UC Santa Barbara religion historian Jeffrey Burton Russell about whether Heaven and Earth ever come together in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

"Heaven is where God is," said Burton Russell. The location is beyond space and time, however. Up until the 1600's or 1700's, Christians believed quite literally that you traveled up to Heaven via a ladder or stairs, or circles as in Dante's Divine Comedy. And even though Dante described Hell specifically, he used metaphor to describe Heaven. Heaven, said Dante, was beyond language.

Even medieval artists, in depicting heaven, did it in a way that showed that it lies outside human perception viewing it through a window or even choosing to hide it behind a wall, explained Schwarz.

In Buddhism, said Buswell, there is a physical body in some heavens, but in higher levels of heavens there is no physical embodiment. You can't even try to paint these heavens.

Nabokov brought the conversation back to earth. "I'd like to introduce a little history and reality into all this conceptual talk," he said. "For colonized people around the world, the 19th century was the end of the world." For Native Americans in California and indigenous people around the world, the 19th century was a hell on earth, and their visions of heaven were those of release from mass murder and disease. In California, Indians came together in earth lodges and prayed for the world outside to be cleared of white people and hogs (who ate the acorns), for the land to be re-carpeted with wildflowers, and for those who had been killed by disease to return. These "very concrete, very practical cosmologies of what heaven on earth would look like" were developing all over the world at this time, according to Nabokov.

So how does one get into Heaven, anyway?

While today we desire a quick and painless death, for a medieval Christian, said Schwarz, a quick death was the worst thing, because you couldn't prepare for the afterlife.

In the Christian tradition, said Burton Russell, if you're a sinner and you repent even at the moment of death it's enough to get you into heaven.

In Buddhism, the process of death involves "very elaborate visualization exercises," said Buswell. These can take up to 40 days, as a person is guided through rebirth.

Before turning to the audience for the question-and-answer session, Hassett Sanchez asked the panelists whether our fixation today on living well rather than dying well is a luxury. Do other cultures, past and present, think of the afterlife differently because their life on earth is so difficult?

Nabokov said that the primary concern of Native Americans in life and death is the community rather than the individual. In Pueblo Indian society, the health of the community is much more important. When the community is thriving, people live in the present; when the community is suffering, they imagine alternative heavens in response.

Said Burton Russell, "It is indicative of our modern society that we tend to think of ourselves as individuals divorced from the rest of people." Today, we see death as being far into the future we try to have fun on earth to avoid it. But living a good life, in western religion, is not about having fun it's not the point.

In the question-and-answer session, the audience asked the panelists to talk more about the intersection between religion and history. How did the plagues of the Middle Ages affect people's conceptions of Heaven and Hell?

After the Black Death in the 14th century, said Burton Russell, you saw more terrifying and immediate representations of death. The image of the skeleton, said Schwarz, is often related to the plague.

Have horrifying images of Hell been used throughout history to keep people under control?

In the middle ages, said Schwarz, people paid a lot of money to commission books full of beautiful but terrifying paintings of Hell. In Buddhism, said Buswell, there are very elaborate depictions of suffering in Hell to encourage (incentivize) good behavior.

Overall, though, Heaven and Hell have a disappointing record when it comes to discouraging vice. Or, to put it another way, Heaven and Hell have been more successful in inspiring good art than in inspiring good behavior.

"$10 Million Archon Genomics X Prize for 100 Centenarian Complete Genomes in One Month"

Ion Bus L. Stephen Coles,
Caleb E. Finch, and Laurence H. Kedes
Monday, July 23, 2012; 12:30 PM PDT; Children's Hospital; Los Angeles, CA. The Ion Bus is a mobile DNA sequencing platform designed to travel around the country to visit healthy elderly and sequence their genes right on the spot in less than 6 hours. The bus started in Florida and went to NYC before coming to Los Angeles.

US$10 Million will be given to the first team to successfully sequence the whole genome of 100 healthy centenarian subjects within 30 days at a maximum cost of $1,000 per genome at an error rate no greater than 1 per million base pairs and achieves best-in-class requirements for the following prize categories: Accuracy, Completeness, and Haplotype Phasing.

Conceived by Dr. J. Craig Venter, the goal of the competition is to usher in a new era of personalized medicine, revolutionizing genomic sequencing and challenging scientists to design rapid, inexpensive, and accurate whole genome sequencing technologies.

Drs. Coles, Finch, and Kedes are shown during an interview for the press about the project. Click on the bus to learn more of the details.

Natalie S. Coles amd Dr. Young Ghe Chung
Sunday, May 27, 2012; 10:00 PM; Natalie S. Coles chats with Dr. Young Ghe Chung, a world expert Veterinarian in animal cloning at the Gladstone Restaurant in Pacific Palisades, CA.

"Fulbright Scholar BBQ at UCLA"

Dr. Coles at Fulbright BBQ
Sunday, May 27, 2012; 2:30 PM; Dr. Stephen Coles attends an International Fulbright Scholars BBQ during the Memorial Day Weekend.

"Mannkind Labs"

Dr. Coles at Mannkind Labs
Wednesday, May 23, 2012; 3:30 PM; Dr. Stephen Coles inspects the labs at the Alfred E. Mann Mannkind Facilities.

"Lecture on Aging to UCLA Affiliates"

Dr. Coles with Sherman, 102 yo Drs. Stephen Coles and Glorya Dixon
Thursday, May 17, 2012; 12:45 PM; Dr. L. Stephen Coles gave the Keynote Lecture to the UCLA Affiliates luncheon on "The Secrets of the Oldest Old" to about 50 interested members. Sherman in the photo above is 102 years old himself.

"Prof. Christof Koch on Consciousness"

Christof Koch, Ph.D.
Sunday, May 13, 2012; 2:00 PM; CalTech; Pasadena, CA; Christof Koch, Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology in the Biology Division, spoke to the Skeptics Society regarding the topic of his new book, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press; Cambridge, MA; 2012). Click on his photo for more details.

"David Steinman for US Congress"

David Steinman
Wednesday, May 9, 2012; 4:30 PM PDT; Playa del Rey, CA; For a 30-second unlisted YouTube Video Commercial made for David Steinman for Congress for the California Primary Election that will take place on June 5th, click on the photo above. You may have to type in the link manually as Dr. Coles appears briefly giving an endorsement along with Ms. Alexandra Paul, one of the actresses from Baywatch (a popular TV Series from the [1989 - 2001] time period).

"AMMG Lecture on a Supercentenarian with Severe Dementia"

L. Stephen Coles
Sunday, May 6, 2012; 1:00 PM EDT; AMMG Conference Lecture at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa; Hollywood, FL; Dr. Coles presented the autopsy data on the "Neuropathology of a Supercentenarian with Severe Senile Dementia."

"Dr. Anthony S. Fauci Gives Medical Grand Rounds at Stanford"

The Coles with Dr, Tony Fauci
Wednesday, April 18, 2012; [8:00 -- 9:10] AM PDT; Department of Medicine, Stanford University; Stanford, CA; Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D. of NIH gave a superb one-hour review of HIV/AIDS research at Grand Rounds: "Are We Close to a Cure?" Although a vaccine has not yet arrived after 30 years of substantial effort, the value of male circumcision for risk reduction was made conspicuously clear.

"Stephen Coles Gives Longevity Lecture at Stanford Medical School

Walter Bortz and Steve Coles Steve Coles and Walter Bortz
L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012; [7:00 - 9:00] PM PDT; "The Roadmap to 100: The Science of Living a Long Life," a Ten-Week Course at Stanford University's Continuing Education (Bio-05) by Walter M. Bortz, II, M.D.; Stephen and Natalie Coles presented a lecture entitled "Inside the Lives of the World's Oldest People" containing over 100 PowerPoint slides to over 75 students.

We had an early diner with Stanford Immunologist, Prof. James Fries, M.D. with whom I've worked for over 38 years (as well as his wife Sarah) before the start of our Lecture.

Steve Coles and Vint Cerf of Google
Saturday, March 31, 2012; 3:00 PM PDT; Tustin, CA; Steve Coles and Vint Cerf of Google in Washington, D.C.

"UCLA IMED Seminar on hESC's for the Eye"

Dr. Robert Lanza, M.D., ACT Prof. Steven Schwartz,  M.D., Jules Stein
February 29, 2012; Noon; Drs. Robert Lanza of ACT and Steven Schwartz of UCLA Ophthalmology jointly presented the first FDA-approved clinical trial on diseases of the eye using human embryonic stem cells at the IMED Seminar. Click on the first photo for more details from The Wall Street Journal.

"The Connectome"

MIT Prof. Sebastian Seung
February 15, 2012; On a national book tour for his new book The Connectome, Prof. Sebastian Seung made a one-hour presentation at Vroman's Books in Pasadena, CA.

"Gordon Research Conference on the Biology of Aging in Ventura, CA"

Gordon Conference on Aging Attendees
February 14, 2012; The Gordon Research Conference on the Biology of Aging was held in Ventura, CA from February 12-17, 2012. Attendees included George Martin, M.D., Seattle, WA; Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., Cambridge, UK; Hinco Gierman, Ph.D., Stanford University; Tom Perls, M.D., Boston University; Cynthia Kenyon, Ph.D., UCSF; Richard Miller, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan; Steven Austad, Ph.D., University of Texas; Elliot Bergman, Ph.D., Valdosta, GA; Nir Barzilai, M.D., Einstein, New York City; Jan Vijig, Ph.D., Einstein; New York City; Judy Campisi, Ph.D., Buck Institute; Novato, CA; Brad Wilcox, M.D., Honolulu, HI; Tom Kirkwood, Ph.D., UK; Nicholas Schork, Ph.D., UCSD; Gordon Lithgow, Ph.D., Buck Institute, Novato, CA; Rita Effros, Ph.D., UCLA; Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D., UCLA; and Valter Longo, Ph.D., USC.
Thomas T. Perls, M.D.
Tom Perls, M.D. Boston University
Hinco Gierman, Ph.D.
Hinco Gierman, Ph.D., Stanford University
Brad Wilcox, M.D.
Brad Wilcox, M.D.; Honolulu, HI

"Defeating Aging with Regenerative Medicine"

Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D.
Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D.
February 12, 2012; 7:00 PM; Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Office of SENS, gave a one- hour lecture to 60 attendees of the Local SENS Chapter Meeting at the Brewery in downtown Los Angeles near the USC Keck School of Medicine.

"Eigth Annual Stem Cells Symposium: Stem Cells and Cancer"

Prof. Donald B. Kohn, M.D. Slide
Friday, February 10, 2012; [8:00 AM - 4:30 PM]. Dr. Jonathan Thomas, Ph.D., J.D., the current Chairman of CIRM, started the Eight Annual UCLA Stem Cells Symposium: Stem Cells and Cancer with a discussion of the prospects for a new round of funding from the State of California when current funding is expected to be completed in about five years. Recall that under Robert Klein, Prop. 71 [2004] provided $3 billion over a ten-year period of which $1.3B has been spent with $[5-6] million committed in RFA's for next year. CIRM has provided universities with a significant amount of infrastructure and buildings for its private and public universities as well as training grants for students, Residents, and Post-Doctoral Fellows. Collaboration with researchers around the world has been a hallmark of CIRM's approach. Collaboration with California-based industry has also been important to translate basic resaerch into commercial products. But in order for the citizens of California to provide a similar amount of support in the future, CIRM will have to demonstrate value for this investment in the form of cures for specific diseases that will impact health-care economics within our state. One such disease is Sickle Cell Disease (SSD), which affects more than 80,000 persons. The Mendelian genetic basis for SS Anemia has been known for decades (a point mutation in in the Beta Hemoglobin gene {G=C --> A=T} results in a {Glu -- > Val} amino acid substitution in the final protein [the mutation is maintained in the general population, since it confers a modest resistance to malaria] resulting in the formation of rouleaux [a stacking of hemoglobin tetramers like a roll of coins due to self-stickiness] ultimataly deforming membranes of Red Blood Cells giving them a sickle shape under the microscope and blocking them from passing easily (deformably) through narrow capillaries, thereby chocking off blood flow to the distal (downstream) veins resulting in significant pain in the joints [due to tissue anoxia] for those afflicted with this condition. Little can be done today short of a bone-marrow transplant from a sibling donor to alleviate this disease, which disproportionally afflicts Black Americans. In my opinion, curing the root-cause of SSD through CIRM funding, could be the "Silver Bullet" that would be needed to convince the public to renew a next round of funding. The cure is on the drawing boards in the form of genetic engineering in which Zinc Fingers (six nucelotides on each side of the corrected sequence) would be used to do a snip-out and back-in a genetic correction to the bad gene in the native chromosome in which the defective gene resides. The zinc-finger technology is being developed by a company in Northern California (Sangamo Biosciences of Richmond, CA) and has been tested using a viral vector in animal models. (See the poster above that will be published soon.) A Phase-1, FDA-approved human clinical trial is planned to begin in about two years with autologous bone-marrow transplants (obviating the concern about using anti-rejection drugs), hopefully in time to influence public opinion when it is most needed. The beauty of this approach is that the technology is generic, since it could be applied to a wide variety of genetic diseases and not just SSD.

"Systems Biology and the Future of Medicine"

Prof. Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D.
Dinner in Westwood
Wednesday, February 8, 2012; 12:00 Noon. Prof. Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Systems Biology Institute of Seattle, WA gave a talk to the UCLA IMED Seminar to a full audience on the topic of "Systems Biology, Transforming Technologies, and the Emergence of Proactive 'P4' Medicine." BTW, P4 stands for "Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, and Participatory." Genomic biology is digital; however, proteomics is still analog, so it's slower going. The cost of complete sequencing will go from ~$4,000 today to under $1,000 at the end of next year. Furthermore, the cost is forecast to go down to $200 in five years. So, after that time, all newborns will have their sequences routinely done at birth; the sequence will be anonymized and placed in a public data base for biostatistical analysis. Indeed, doctors may come to request a genomic/epigenetic profile to be done every year on all patients over age 60 on an annual basis, as part of their routine screening. Click on the first photo above for a direct link to the P4 Medical Institute and a short peek into the future of medicine as it will be practiced in five years.

"Understanding our Genes: Steps Toward Personalized Medicine"

San Diego, CA
Drs. J. Craig Venter and Alan Trounson
Tuesday, January 17, 2012; Noon; San Diego, CA; Drs. J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. and Catriona Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D. gave a joint keynote address to the CIRM Board of Directors at their all-day business meeting. Click on the photo of Craig Venter and Alan Trounson, President of CIRM, for a full video of the presentation.

"A Universe from Nothing"

Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D. The Amazing Randi
Sunday, January 15, 2012; 2:00 PM; CalTech, Pasadena, CA; Lawrence Krauss, Ph.D., a theoretical physicist and cosmologist from Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, spoke to the Skeptics Society on the topic of "Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing." After his talk, he autographed copies of his new book.

Where did the universe come from? What was there before? Why was there something rather than nothing? Such questions have been at the heart of religious and philosophical debates about the existence of God, but in recent years science has been closing in on the answers. Krauss takes us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved and how it's going to end - - not with a bang but with a whimper. As Richard Dawkins writes "This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for supernaturalism since Darwin."

In the Audience was a famous magician, The Amazing James Randi, 84, a long-time member of two different skeptics societies. Click on his photo above for a link to his Foundation and the unclaimed US$1,000,000 prize for the first person to demonstrate a supernatural capability that withstands the scrutiny of scientific skeptics.

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