January 29,
image of Dr. Danica Chen

This story is part of our Skin Longevity Series featuring industry experts, thought leaders, scientists and innovators who are changing how we think about aging.

Discover more about Estée Lauder’s longevity science, groundbreaking research and how to live a longevity lifestyle.

How has your background in molecular genetics helped you to understand aging?

Dr. Chen: Molecular genetics enables us to understand the biology of aging at the molecular level, so that we can not only understand how we age but can also be informed of the key molecules that can be targeted to slow aging.

Is there a difference between longevity and healthspan?

Dr. Chen: These two concepts are related but different. Longevity refers to the number of years one lives, while healthspan refers to the number of years one lives a healthy life.

Regarding your research in the laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley: Where do you think longevity research is going in the next 5 years?

Dr. Chen: The hallmarks of aging have been identified and it’s an exciting time to focus on rejuvenation. In the coming years, the aging field will build on the discoveries of the molecular genetics of aging in the past 2-3 decades and develop approaches to prevent or reverse aging and aging-associated conditions.

This translational phase of aging research will really energize all industries related to human health, as it brings us closer to our goal of extending human healthspan.

What are sirtuins ? In your estimation, what have been the key findings in this field?

Dr. Chen: Sirtuins are longevity proteins that are naturally present in cells. While trying to identify longevity factors, Lenny Guarente’s lab at MIT discovered that SIR2 promoted longevity in yeast cells.

Because SIR2 is conserved throughout evolution and there are seven SIR2 homologs in mammals (SIRT1-7), it raises an interesting question of whether the SIR2 homologs, or sirtuins, regulate the aging process in mammals. Recent advances have demonstrated that sirtuins regulate many hallmarks of aging.

What is your perspective on the research from Estée Lauder laboratories, as it relates to Sirtuins and slowing down skin aging?

Dr. Chen:  First, Estée Lauder’s research advances sirtuin biology research by identifying the role of sirtuins in the skin. Second, it advances the biology of aging in developing approaches to slow and/or reverse visible aging of the skin, the largest organ in our body.

Estée Lauder laboratories is a leader in skin aging research. While Estée Lauder’s research into sirtuins is distinct from the research done in my lab as discussed above, its work on sirtuins on skin aging is important.

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