Biographies of RSI Speakers


Steven Austad, Ph.D.
University of Texas

Steven N. Austad is a comparative biogerontologist, who conducts research on diverse animal species with the goal of understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms of physiological aging. He is a Professor in the Department of Cellular & Structural Biology and a member of the Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is also an affiliate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington Medical School. Dr. Austad’s activities in the aging research community are widespread. He is a section editor for Aging Cell and Neurobiology of Aging, an associate editor of the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, and serves on the Executive Scientific Advisory Board of the AAAS-Ellison Medical Foundation-sponsored web site, Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. His tradebook Why We Age has been translated into seven languages. He is co-editor (with E.J. Masoro) of the 5th Edition of the Handbook of the Biology of Aging and also of the forthcoming 6th Edition of the same series.

Dr Austad's past work has examined how evolutionary pressures influence longevity, the role of caloric restriction in natural populations, and the logic of animal model selection for research on aging. An invitation to testify in defense of senescence-retarding research to the President’s Council on Bioethics in 2002 awakened his interest in ethical issues surrounding biomedical research. Consequently, he has now taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in Bioethics.

Currently, his research involves investigating the extent to which genome maintenance is a critical determinant of aging rate. His experimental approach compares cellular stress resistance and DNA damage-resistance and repair fidelity in a range of short- and long-lived mammal species. He is also working to develop the common marmoset, a rat-sized primate, as a major primate model for aging research.

His unusual intellectual background involves a B.A. (English Literature) from UCLA and a B.S. (Biology) from California State University Northridge. He received his PhD in Evolutionary Ecology from Purdue University and was a faculty member at Harvard University (Organismic & Evolutionary Biology) and the University of Idaho (Biology) before assuming his current position. Between undergraduate and graduate schools, he was a wild animal trainer for the Hollywood film industry.

Back To Top

Richard Burkhauser, Ph.D.
Cornell University

Richard V. Burkhauser joined PAM in 1998. His professional career has focused on how public policies affect the economic behavior and well-being of vulnerable populations, e.g., people with disabilities, older persons, low income households. He has published widely on these topics in journals of demography, economics, gerontology, as well as public policy.

Dr. Burkauser is Co-Principal Investigator on the Department of Education RRT Center for Economic Research on Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities. He is also Co-Principal Investigator on the RRT Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics. He is Principal Investigator on a National Institute on Aging funded project "Adding Health Variables to the CNEF."

Richard V. Burkhauser, as Chair of Policy Analysis and Management, monitors all PAM extension activities. As Co-Principal Investigator of the Center for Economic Research on Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities and the Co-Principal Investigator of the Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics, he has carried out an extensive program of technical assistance and presentations to government agencies, policymakers and consumers on the employment and economic well-being of people with disabilities.

Back To Top

Judith Campisi, Ph.D.
University of California Berkeley, CA

Judith Campisi received her doctorate in Biochemistry from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and postdoctoral training in the area of cell cycle regulation and cancer at the Harvard Medical School. As an Assistant Professor at the Boston University Medical School, she became interested the control of cellular senescence and its role in tumor suppression and aging. In 1991, she moved her research program to the Berkeley National Laboratory, where she continues to study cellular senescence and has established a broad program in various aspects of aging. In 2002, she established a second laboratory at the Buck Institute for Age Research, the first free-standing institute devoted to aging research in the US. She is the recipient of a MERIT award from the National Institute on Aging (1995), Senior Scholar award from the Ellison Medical Foundation, the AlliedSignal Award (1997), and awards from the Gerontological Society of America (1999) and American Federation for Aging Research (2002) for her research on aging. She serves on several editorial boards and advisory boards.

Back To Top

Laura Carstensen, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Dr. Carstensen is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Life-span Development Laboratory. She also served as the Barbara D. Finberg Director of Stanford's Institute for Research on Women and Gender from 1997-2001.

Her specialties include socioemotional selectivity theory, emotional development throughout the life-span, the role social relationships play in psychological well-being, and the influence of motivation on cognitive processing in old age. Her research is supported primarily by the National Institute on Aging.

Dr. Carstensen is currently Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on a Research Agenda for the Social Psychology of Aging and panel member of the National Institute on Aging’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Review Committee. She also is Chair of the Board of Science Advisors (Beirat) to the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Carstensen is a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America, the American Psychological Society, and the American Psychological Association (Divisions 1, 2, 12, 20, and 25). She has received the Richard Kalish Award for Innovative Research and Stanford University's Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award and was recently selected as a Guggenheim Fellow.

Back To Top

Nicholas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School

Nicholas Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., is an internist and sociologist who conducts research on the socio-cultural factors that affect the supply, demand, and outcomes of medical care. He is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School; he is also active as an Attending Physician in the Palliative Medicine Program at Massachusetts General Hospital; and he is an Affiliate of the Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University. He co-directs the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy program at Harvard.

Dr. Christakis' past work has examined the accuracy and role of prognosis in medicine, ways of improving end-of-life care, factors associated with hospice use, and the impact of hospice care on the health of bereaved spouses. His book on prognosis, Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1999 and has been broadly reviewed.

Currently, he is principally concerned with health and social networks, and specifically with how ill health, health risks, and death in one person can have like consequences for others in a person's social network. Some current work is focused on the health benefits of marriage and on how ill health in one spouse can have cascading effects on the other spouse. It seems likely that improving the health of one partner in a marriage can have meaningful effects on the health of the other, and that both parties would value this — in a way that influences health policy.

A separate line of research involves developing the conceptual and practical foundations of the problem of iatrogenesis and examining physicians' responses to the problem of medical harm.

His research has implications for understanding why people become sick and how they use medical care to become well again. It also has implications for clinical and policy actions to enhance the quality of care given to seriously ill patients.

Dr. Christakis received his B.S. degree from Yale University, his M.D. and M.P.H. degree from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Christakis serves on the editorial boards of the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Palliative Medicine, Palliative Medicine[UK], and until 2001, the American Journal of Sociology. He teaches quantitative and qualitative research design, medical sociology, health services research, and palliative medicine.

Back To Top

Rita B. Effros, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles

Rita B. Effros, Ph.D., is Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and holds the Plott Endowed Chair in Gerontology. She received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in immunity to influenza. Her current major area of research is the effect of aging on the human immune system. To address one of the major clinical problems of aging, the increased morbidity and mortality due to infections, she has developed a unique model system to study aging at the level of the individual cell. Using human T lymphocytes, which are the immune cells responsible for fighting infections and cancer, her research in this area has identified a biomarker that can be potentially useful for determining "immunological age", a discovery for which she was awarded a United States Patent. Her work has also led to the novel observation that the immune system ages prematurely in persons infected with HIV. Finally, her research also addresses how the immune system contributes to several age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. In terms of potential treatment to rejuvenate the aging immune system, she is collaborating with scientists at the Geron Corporation to evaluate both genetic and pharmacological strategies

A UCLA faculty member since 1984, Dr. Effros has also been a major force in undergraduate gerontology education. She was instrumental in developing an interdisciplinary year-long honors course for Freshman, entitled "Frontiers of Human Aging: Biomedical, Psychosocial and Policy Perspectives". She has lectured at numerous international & national gerontology and immunology meetings, and serves on the editorial boards of Experimental Gerontology, Current HIV Research, Mechanisms of Ageing & Development, and Ageing: Clinical & Experimental Research. She is Chair-Elect of the Biological Science section of the Gerontological Society of America, and serves on the Executive Committee of the UCLA Pepper Center.

Back To Top

Douglas Ewbank, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Douglas Ewbank is a Research Professor at the Population Studies Center and the Population Aging Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. After working on African demography, the evaluation of health programs in developing countries and historical demography, he shifted his research to work on Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders. This work has led him into research on population genetics and the modeling of chronic disease. He has collaborated with colleagues at Penn's Alzheimer's Disease Center on such topics as caregiver evaluation of behavior in AD, the effects of symptoms usually associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) on the rate of progression in AD, and the association of various pathologic markers with the incidence of dementia in PD patients. His recent writings include an introduction to genetics written for demographers and other social scientists that appeared in the volume Cells and Surveys published by the National Academy Press. Recent articles include: "Mortality differences by APOE genotype estimated from demographic synthesis" (Genetic Epidemiology, 2002), and "The APOE gene and differences in life expectancy in Europe (J Gerontology: Biological Sciences, 2004).

Back To Top

Emmett Keeler, Ph.D.
RAND Corporation

Emmett B. Keeler is an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Services, a Professor at the RAND graduate school and a senior mathematician at RAND. He joined RAND in 1968 after getting a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard. He leads a large study to evaluate a new model for helping people with chronic diseases manage their health better. He also directs a project that supplies cost-effectiveness analyses to a variety of UCLA geriatric interventions, and a project to develop a business case for providers to offer higher quality care. In the RAND Health Insurance Experiment, he investigated the theoretical and empirical effects of alternative health insurance plans on episodes of treatment and on health outcomes. He has led several projects dealing with the potential demand for and effects of Medical Savings Accounts. He taught at Harvard and the University of Chicago while on leave from RAND. He received article-of-the-year awards from the Association for Health Services Research for papers on outlier payments (1988), on the costs to others of bad health habits (1989), and on whether impoverished Medicare patients receive worse care in hospitals than do other patients (1994). He is the author or co-author of over 100 refereed articles, and 4 books.

Back To Top

Robert Levenson, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Robert W. Levenson received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1974 in clinical psychology. He is currently a professor in the department of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley where he is a member of the behavioral neuroscience, clinical science, developmental, and social/personality programs. He is the former Director of the Clinical Science Program. He currently serves as Director of the Institute for Personality and Social Research and directs the Predoctoral Training Consortium in Affective Science (an NIMH-funded multidisciplinary training program). His research program is in the area of human emotion, studying the organization of physiological, behavioral and subjective systems; the ways that these systems are impacted by neuropathology, normal aging, and culture; and the role that emotions play in the maintenance and disruption of committed relationships. Dr. Levenson’s research is supported by NIMH and NIA (including a recent MERIT award). He has served as President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has just finished his term as president of the American Psychological Society.

Back To Top

John McArdle, Ph.D.
University of Virginia

John J. (Jack) McArdle, Ph.D., is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia USA) where he has been teaching Quantitative Methods since 1984, and he is the director of the Jefferson Psychometric Laboratory, teaches classes in both basic and advanced topics in psychometrics, multivariate analysis, structural equation modeling. McArdle is also a visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Development at University of California at Berkeley, an adjunct faculty member at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hawaii, and he is the lead data analyst for research studies on college student-athletes at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Starting in August 2005, McArdle will be a Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

McArdle received his BA in Psychology and Mathematics at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania (1969-1973), his MA and the Ph.D. in Psychology and Computer Sciences at Hofstra University in New York (1973-1977); and his Post-Doctoral training in Psychometrics and Multivariate Analysis at the University of Denver in Colorado (1977-1983). McArdle’s research has been focused on age-sensitive methods for psychological and educational measurement and longitudinal data analysis including published work has been in the area of factor analysis, growth curve analysis, and dynamic modeling of adult cognitive abilities, including a recent book with Richard Woodcock entitled, "Human Cognitive Abilities in Theory and Practice." (Erlbaum, 1998). McArdle is the director of the ongoing National Growth and Change Study (NGCS), a longitudinal study of cognitive changes over age in the entire USA.

McArdle has won the Cattell Award for Distinguished Multivariate Research (1987), was elected President of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology (1993-94), was elected President of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (1996-1999), and was elected as the Secretary of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP, 2000-2002). McArdle now serves on several advisory boards for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the Evaluation Advisory Committee (Chair), the ACTIVE Collaborative Trials, the National Archive for Computerized Databases in Aging (NACDA), the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), and he was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel on Institutional Review Boards. In 2002-2003 he was named Lansdowne Professor of the University of Victoria, Jacob Cohen Lecturer of Columbia University, and Best Academic Researcher, National Collegiate Athletic Association. In 2004 he was named a Co-PI of the HRS.

McArdle is proud to add that his student-colleagues have won important awards; In 1995, Dr. Fumiaki Hamagami was named the winner of the American Psychological Association Division 5 Dissertation Award; in 1998, Dr. Thomas S. Paskus was named winner of the National Council of Measurement in Education (NCME) Doctoral Dissertation award; in 2000, Dr. Steven M. Boker was named winner of the Cattell Award from the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology; and in 2004 was named the winner of the American Psychological Association Division 5 Dissertation Award.

Back To Top

David Sinclair, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School

David Sinclair, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Molecular Biology of Aging, and co-founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Waltham, MA.

In 1997, Sinclair's research at M.I.T. identified the cause of aging in yeast, a first for any species. In May 2003, Sinclair’s laboratory reported the discovery of conserved yeast "master regulatory gene" for aging in the journal Nature and his lab was the first to identify small molecules that can promote the survival of simple organisms such as yeast and flies by mimicking the effects of calorie restriction. He runs a lab of about 15 researchers and in the past two years his lab has published four times in Science and three times in Nature.

In 2004, Sinclair co-founded Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Waltham, a company which has raised $45 million to develop drugs that harness the body's own defenses against disease. Fortune magazine identified Sirtris as one of the Top 25 "breakout" companies of 2005.

Sinclair obtained a BS with first-class honors at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and received the Commonwealth Prize for his research. In 1995, he received a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and was awarded the Thompson Prize for best thesis work. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Leonard Guarente at M.I.T. being recruited to Harvard Medical School at the age of 29. Dr. Sinclair has received several additional awards including a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Award, and a Special Fellowship from the Leukemia Society, a Ludwig Scholarship, a Harvard-Armenise Fellowship, an American Association for Aging Research Fellowship, and is currently a New Scholar of the Ellison Medical Foundation. He recently won the Genzyme Outstanding Achievement in Biomedical Science Award for 2004.

Sinclair's work is featured in three books: Merchants of Immortality (S. Hall, 2003), Timeless Quest (L. Guarente, 2003), The Anti-Aging Pill (B. Sardi, 2004). His research has been covered by the world's print media including The New York Times (6 times), Washington Post, The Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, Newsweek (2 times), TIME, US News, New Scientist, The Scientist and Fortune. In 2003, one of his papers was considered a "Discovery of the Year" by Discover magazine. He is a recurring guest on television and radio, discussing topics from ranging from basic research to bioethics.

Dr. Sinclair lives in West Roxbury, Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.

Back To Top

Jon Skinner, Ph.D.
Dartmouth College

Jonathan Skinner is John French Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Skinner's research interests include the efficiency and incidence of health care, with a particular focus on the geography of health care intensity and health outcomes in the U.S. Medicare population. He has also written on the geography of disparities in health and health care. Related research in economics focuses on why households save and why so many households save virtually nothing for their retirement.

Back To Top

Andrew Steptoe, DPhil
British Heart Foundation
University College London, UK

Andrew Steptoe is British Heart Foundation professor of psychology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. He graduated in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge in 1972, then studied for a DPhil in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. He was chair and head of the Department of Psychology at St. George's Hospital Medical School from 1988-2000), and was awarded a higher doctorate (DSc) by the University of London in 1995. Andrew Steptoe has worked for more than 25 years on psychological aspects of health, and has been particularly interested in the interface between psychosocial factors and biological processes relevant to disease. He has written more than 350 scientific papers, and his books include Psychological Factors in Cardiovascular Disorders (1981), Health Care and Health Behaviour (1984), Essential Psychology for Medical Practice (1988), Stress, Personal Control and Health (1989), and Psychosocial Processes and Health (1994). A new edited volume, Depression and Physical Illness (Cambridge University Press) is currently in production. Andrew Steptoe was president of the International Society of Behavioral Medicine in 1994-1996, and of the Society for Psychosomatic Research from 1983-1985. Professor Steptoe main focus of research at the moment is the problem of social inequalities in health. Together with Professor Sir Michael Marmot, the director of the Whitehall studies of social inequalities in cardiovascular disease risk, Professor Steptoe is undertaking a programme of research into the ways in which psychological and social factors influence the biological responses underlying coronary heart disease, and how these responses vary with socio-economics status.

Back To Top

Robert Wallace, MD
University of Iowa, College of Public Health

Robert B. Wallace, Dr. Wallace is professor of epidemiology and internal medicine at the University of Iowa Colleges of Public Health and Medicine, and Director of the University’s Center on Aging. He has been a member of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), where he now serves as a senior advisor, and the National Advisory Council on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. He is a Member of the Institute of Medicine and past Chair of its Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. He is the author or co-author of over 240 publications and 22 book chapters, and has been the editor of four books, including the current edition of Maxcy-Rosenau-Last's Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Wallace's research interests are in clinical and population epidemiology, and focus on the causes and prevention of disabling conditions of older persons. He has had substantial experience in the conduct of both observational cohort studies of older persons and clinical trials, including preventive interventions related to osteoporotic fracture and coronary disease prevention. He is the Chair of the Health Working Group of the Health and Retirement Study and the site principal investigator for the Women's Health Initiative, a national intervention trial exploring the prevention of breast and colon cancer and coronary disease. He has been a collaborator in several international studies of the causes and prevention of chronic illness in older persons.

Back To Top