Dr Steve Austad is the Protective Life endowed Chair in healthy aging research at the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He recently visited Ireland and took part in a ‘Science of Business’ podcast interview with fellow scientist and serial entrepreneur Louise Grubb. Dr Austad is a renowned researcher in the area of aging and is currently seeking to understand the underlying cause of aging; specifically, his long-term goal is the development of medical interventions that slow the entrance of the decay of human health. Steve is the author of more than 200 scientific articles and more than 150 newspaper columns on science. His book ‘Why We Age’ about the body’s journey through life has been translated into eight languages. And his new book Methuselah’s zoo, which is what nature can teach us about living longer, healthier lives will be released later this year.
Speaking on efforts that we all can make in preventing age-related illness, Dr Austad says, “I don’t think people appreciate that the biggest threat to human health these days is aging. It’s not cancer. It’s not Alzheimer’s disease, not heart disease. It’s because aging underlies all those things. So if we can actually target these fundamental aging processes, then all these things can be delayed together.
I don’t think it’s a mystery, but I do think it’s something that often gets overlooked and when we start talking about drugs we need to consider that, these things are going to work together with lifestyle choices the most exciting and unexpected finding in recent years is the way that physical activity some people will say exercise but I prefer to say physical activity because it doesn’t have the connotation that you have to be dripping sweat and go to the gym to do it. But how that affect so many things, not just your muscles in your heart and your lungs. But it’s even a fantastic preventative for dementia. And who would have thought about this, but we now know that your muscles when they’re working, they produce hormones. These hormones actually cross the blood-brain barrier and get into your brain. So, we now have some good ideas about how physical activity can lead to preserving mental agility. And I don’t think anyone would have predicted that. I certainly wouldn’t have and those are the kinds of things that anyone can do.
Nobody is for keeping people alive in a more and more frail and feeble state for longer and longer and longer. That would be a fool’s errand and from the evidence from the animals that we have, it looks like what we’re really doing is preserving health, not preserving frailty. So that’s the sort of lifestyle choices we make and there are some obvious ones there like maintaining a healthy weight and you know, eating well, right, and they’re all related.”
Dr Austad also discusses aging research and the fact that the one chosen mammal ‘the mouse’ out of all 5,000 mammals is one of the ‘most unsuccessful mammals at aging’ is strange. While he feels that the mouse holds a role in scientific research that in order to be more accurate in research for human aging then ‘companion animals are an obvious choice because they share so many diseases with people.’
Amongst other fascinating topics, Dr Austad also discusses ‘The Dog Aging Project’, how females have such a greater chance of living longer – even as premature babies and why that is. He also talks about his array of past careers from Lion Tamer to NYC cab driver to author and celebrated scientist.
The Science of Business podcast is hosted by Waterford native Louise Grubb. Founder of NutriScience, Q1 Scientific and TriviumVet. In this episode, Louise discusses some fascinating insights on human health and scientific research with Dr Austad. Her role as CEO of TriviumVet which specialises in the development of drugs and other medical devices to treat chronic diseases in companion animals positions her with key insights for this interview. The company has already developed several veterinary drugs and Louise shared in the podcast interview that TriviumVet is “very close to making a breakthrough” in the development of a completely novel drug to treat cardiac disease in cats and in dogs.
‘The Science of Business’ podcast series is filled with high-quality episodes offering valuable business insights, career stories and start-up successes from some of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs and business people. The Science of Business podcast episodes are now available to listen to at https://scienceofbusiness.ie/ and wherever you get your podcasts.
Free to use image
The Science of Business podcast episodes are now available to listen to at https://scienceofbusiness.ie/ and wherever you get your podcasts.