Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 13 July 2005
Vol. 2005, Issue 28, p. pe22
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2005.28.pe22]


Aging Down Under

S. Jay Olshansky

The author is in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. E-mail: sjayo{at}

Key Words: Australia • international conference • research center • IRCHAL

In 2004, a philanthropic father and son team from Australia, John and Noah Weller, decided the time had come to bring the international study of aging to the shores of their country. Central to their vision are (i) an expansion of the ongoing research on aging taking place in Australia; (ii) the organization of annual conferences that draw top scientists, clinicians, and policy makers in the various fields of aging-related research from all over the world; (iii) the creation of an International Research Centre for Healthy Ageing and Longevity (IRCHAL) in Australia (location to be determined) akin to the Center for Advanced Study at Stanford University where scientists and clinicians/geriatricians can spend extended time periods interacting and doing their research; and (iv) a blending of traditional scientific approaches to the study of aging with evidence-based natural and complementary medicine. A list of IRCHAL's objectives and initial members of the international advisory council reveals the breadth and international focus of IRCHAL.

The first conference took place in Sydney in March of 2004 with some 74 scientific presentations over 3 days and more than 500 participants and delegates from around the world (2004 Sydney Conference Programme). Additional details about the first conference may be found at the IRCHAL Web site. By all accounts, the inaugural conference was a first-class event that drew considerable interest from both scientists and the lay population.

The second conference took place in March of 2005 in Brisbane with some 92 scientific presentations and more than 500 participants and delegates over the 3 days representing a broad range of countries from the developed and developing world (2005 Brisbane Conference Programme). The conference was a major international event with top-level representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Focal Point on Ageing, the United States National Institute on Aging, the Australian government, and leading universities, research institutes, and associations from around the world. The WHO was an official cosponsor of this conference, and the prime minister of Australia, the Hon. John Howard, formally acknowledged the importance of both IRCHAL and the scientific conference (Prime Minister John Howard's Message). From the perspective of the scientists, clinicians, and policy makers involved, this conference surpassed the first conference in both breadth of coverage and organization.

The Third International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity will take place on 28 to 30 April 2006 in Melbourne. The domains of scientific topics of both IRCHAL in general and forthcoming conferences include the following: (i) interventions in aging and age-related diseases involving nutrition, exercise, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and complementary medicine; (ii) clinical physiology of aging; (iii) basic science and mechanisms involved in aging, including genetics, genomics, cell physiology, and signaling; (iv) comparative and evolutionary aging; (v) population and demography; (vi) societal, ethical, and political implications of individual and population aging that cross the boundaries between economics, anthropology, and spiritual dimensions; and (vii) quality-of-life issues.

IRCHAL's International Advisory Council members are now in the process of expanding the list of scientists involved in the structure and content of future conferences. Should you wish to become involved with IRCHAL, find out more about the organization, attend future conferences, contribute as a sponsor, or participate in other ways in the goals of this international network of scientists, physicians, and public policy makers, you are encouraged to contact the founders of IRCHAL [John Weller (John.Weller{at} or Noah Weller (Noah.Weller{at}] or visit the organization's Web site. The organizers have made a special effort to develop and maintain the scientific content of the organization and conferences associated with IRCHAL.

From the perspective of the scientists involved, IRCHAL is an exciting new organization. It has the potential to substantially advance the various disciplines that inform the study of aging, create a friendly and nurturing environment for scientists and clinicians to work together to transform theory and research into practical interventions, provide the general public an opportunity to contribute to the vision of a healthy aging population, and do the practical work required to make this vision come true.

July 13, 2005 Citation: S. J. Olshansky, Aging Down Under. Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2005 (28), pe22 (2005).

Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150