Huffington Center on Aging celebrates 30th anniversary

Age is just a number, but for Baylor College of Medicine’s Huffington Center on Aging it represents three decades of important research into the processes that contribute to aging and the diseases associated with it.

The Center celebrated its 30th anniversary on Oct. 17. To commemorate, researchers and students gathered for a scientific symposium, which featured a keynote presentation from Dr. Shelley Berger of the University of Pennsylvania. She discussed the crucial role of epigenetic regulation in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

A main focus of the day’s events included a session on the “Biology of Aging,” with Dr. Meng Wang, associate professor in the Huffington Center on Aging and the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor.

Another session focused on “Aging Diseases,” with presentations by Dr. Alison Goate, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Dr. Joshua Shulman, associate professor of neurology at Baylor; and Dr. Mark Kunik, professor of psychiatry at Baylor. They emphasized new progress in understanding neurodegenerative diseases and improving quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers.

In addition, students presented posters that represented research in two categories: basic science and clinical research. Three winners were chosen for each category.

Basic Science

  • First Place: Alexandra Litvinchuk
  • Second Place: Nicholas E. Propson
  • Third Place: Ruofan Yu

Clinical Research

  • First Place: Laurie Robak
  • Second Place: Jorge Enrique Tovar Perez
  • Third Place: Angela Villanueva

To cap off the day’s events, author and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington delivered an empowering talk at an evening event at the Junior League of Houston.

Huffington emphasized the importance of building a life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and purpose at any age. “The essence of the Huffington Center on Aging is not just to prolong life but to prolong the health span, so that we don’t just survive but we thrive,” she said.

She advised to not only stay engaged in our daily activities but also to take care of our well-being by getting enough sleep. “People often believe that in order to succeed you must be always on, sacrifice your health and you have to burn out – but that is totally untrue. People often say they will sleep when they are dead, but that will happen a lot sooner if they don’t get their sleep now.”

Huffington added that when we take care of ourselves, we are not only healthier but also more productive in our day-to-day activities. When you don’t get enough sleep, every part of the cognitive self is compromised. In addition, she advised the crowd to disengage from the technology that is making them miss out on things in their life, but instead to embrace the life around them.

“Instead of the fear of missing out, FOMO, you should want to have JOMO, the joy of missing out. The more we are addicted to our phones the less solid relationships we build, and meaningful relationships are key to living a healthy life.”

In her closing remarks, Huffington expressed her gratitude for the research that is being done at the Huffington Center on Aging.

“I am delighted to be here to honor the work of the Huffington Center on Aging, and I am delighted to be working with Baylor to bring together all of the research and the amazing findings that Baylor has done. There is incredible research that is being done that can actually affect our daily lives, and most people are not aware of it,” she said.

Arianna Huffington was the co-founder and editor-in-chief at the the Huffington Post, now known as Huff Post. She recently launched her second start-up, Thrive Global, where you can find articles on ways to build a life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and purpose at any age.