Aging expert to deliver UNMC Harman Lecture April 6

by Vicky Cerino
March 15, 2018

Image with caption: Thomas Rando, M.D., Ph.D.

Thomas Rando, M.D., Ph.D.

Thomas Rando, M.D., Ph.D., will be the guest speaker for the Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D., Lectureship in Biomedical Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at noon on Friday, April 6 in UNMC’s Durham Research Center Auditorium.

Dr. Rando is a professor of neurology and neurological sciences and founding director of the Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Stanford University. The goal of his research in aging is to identify interventions that prolong a healthy lifespan so more people can live to very old age with high functionality. One of the discoveries he and his colleagues have made might lead to promising breakthroughs that will enable people to live longer, healthier lives.

"We have found factors in the blood of young animals that promote cell and tissue health. It may be possible to translate that knowledge to therapeutics to decrease the onset or severity of diseases of aging," Dr. Rando said.

Dr. Rando is deputy director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. He directs the Center for Tissue Regeneration, Repair and Restoration, a program in regenerative medicine combining expertise in stem cell biology and bioengineering, at the Veterans’ Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, where he also is chief of neurology.

His research focuses on stem cell biology with a particular interest in stem cell aging. He pioneered the field of systemic factors as regulators of cellular aging. This led to the identification of factors in the blood that either promote or suppress stem cell activity.

His laboratory also provided the foundation for studies of the epigenetics of stem cell function and stem cell aging, leading to the concept of "epigenetic rejuvenation" by which interventions (e.g., dietary, pharmacologic, parabiotic) may slow or even reverse the aging process.

Dr. Rando has some practical advice for someone who wants to live longer. "Do just what your mother told you - don’t overeat, stay active and engaged, and avoid bad habits. So much of research in aging points to these very simple things," Dr. Rando said.

He received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He completed a residency in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, and postdoctoral training at Stanford.

Sponsored by the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, the Harman Lectureship was established in 2002 by the University of Nebraska Foundation in honor of Dr. Harman, Emeritus Millard Professor of Medicine at UNMC, who was known internationally as the father of the Free Radical Theory of Aging. He proposed the theory in 1954 and discovered the role of antioxidants (vitamins C, E and beta-carotene) in fighting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Harman, who spent his career studying the aging process and researching ways to extend the healthy life span of humans, passed away in 2014 at the age of 98.

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