Tom Kirkwood is Associate Dean for Ageing at Newcastle University and Director of the Newcastle Initiative for Changing Age, having previously been Director of the Institute for Ageing and Health from 2004-2011. Educated in biology and mathematics at Cambridge and Oxford, he worked at the National Institute for Medical Research, where he formed and led a new research division, until in 1993 he became Professor of Biological Gerontology at the University of Manchester. His research is focused on the basic science of ageing and on understanding how genes as well as non-genetic factors, such as nutrition, influence longevity and health in old age. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was European President (Biology) of the International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology, chaired the UK Foresight Task Force on ”˜Healthcare and Older People' in 1995, led the project on ”˜Mental Capital Through Life' within the recent Foresight programme on Mental Capital and Well-Being, was Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Science&Technology Select Committee inquiry into ”˜Ageing: Scientific Aspects' and has served on the Councils of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is an Editor of Mechanisms of Ageing and Development and serves on the editorial boards of eight other journals. He has published more than 300 scientific papers and won several international prizes for his research. His books include the award-winning ”˜Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Ageing', ”˜Chance, Development and Ageing' (with Caleb Finch) and ”˜The End of Age' based on his BBC Reith Lectures in 2001.
The Evolutionary Foundation for Ageing and Longevity
Understanding why and how ageing evolved is of great importance in investigating the multiple, complex mechanisms that influence the course of later life in humans and other organisms. Compelling arguments eliminate the idea that death is generally programmed by genes for ageing, but there is still a widespread tendency to interpret data in terms of loosely defined age-regulation which does not usually make either evolutionary or mechanistic sense. This talk will examine the role of natural selection in shaping the ageing process and show how such understanding can provide the basis to dissect the mechanisms responsible for ageing, age-related diseases and longevity.