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Many scientists dedicate their careers to discovering the cure for diseases, especially those associated with aging. Biochemist Tory Hagen and his colleagues at OSU's Linus Pauling Institute are searching for something even more revolutionary—the key to preventing diseases in the first place. In fact, Hagen's research already shows promise for preventing, and even reversing, the effects of old age in humans.
Recently, his work received a tremendous boost through The Campaign for OSU. On April 22, Hagen was inaugurated as the holder of the new Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson Chair in Healthspan Research. This area of research seeks to help people not only live longer, but also live well—maintaining vitality and health even into old age. The chair was created through the Jamiesons' $2 million gift.
"I cannot express how much this chair means to me and my lab's research with the elderly, something we are passionate about doing," said Hagen, who will direct the Institute's new Healthy Aging Program. "While there is certainly good research all across the world in gerontology, most of it is centered around the diseases of aging. This program is turning that on its head. We want to go in and understand what allows us to maintain health. This endowed position is opening doors for increased research in this very vital area."
Hagen's studies have shown improved memory, mobility, and overall function in animals that received supplements of two nutrients: lipoic acid, a nutrient found in green leafy vegetables, and carnitine, found in meat and dairy products.
Now, Hagen's team is looking into preventive effects these nutrients may have on congestive heart failure, the leading cause of disability and death in people over 65. And pilot studies with human volunteers will begin soon on the impact of lipoic acid on memory. At the inauguration ceremony the Jamiesons praised Tory Hagen's research.
"We have personally benefited from Tory's work and are very pleased to be as healthy as we are," said Burgess Jamieson, who at age 77 is an avid hiker. Co-founder of the venture capital firms Institutional Venture Associates and Sigma Partners, he has followed the Institute's work for years and is a strong proponent of vitamins and supplements. He added that their gift is based not just on past accomplishments but on what the Jamiesons expect Hagen to achieve in the future. "Considering our ages, please work fast," he said, drawing chuckles from the
Increasing faculty support is a major goal of The Campaign for OSU. Endowed positions such as the Jamieson Chair support individual faculty and provide the means to build entire programs, influencing research, education, and service that improve people's lives in Oregon and around the world.
"Like Mom Said: Eat Your Broccoli" -- OSU President's Report (PDF)