News: News Archives
Website to Present Research on Aging;
Examine Impact on Society, Medicine
The Alliance for Aging Research and AAAS are launching a new website designed to explore the ethical, economic, political, and social implications of advances in the field of aging. Called "SAGE Crossroads," the website will provide a portal for both researchers and the public to learn about and discuss our burgeoning understanding of the process of aging.
"We want SAGE Crossroads to provide a 24/7 scientific discussion of insights into the biology of aging and the profound impact these insights can have on the human experience of that process," says Dan Perry, executive director of the Alliance.
SAGE Crossroads will be a partner website to Science of Aging Knowledge Environment (SAGE KE), which presents current research on aging and is one of three Science Knowledge Environments run by Science. The new website will include live, web-streamed discussions, as well as articles and reviews, all analyzing the implications of aging research.
The website was developed under the leadership of Perry and the Alliance for Aging Research, and guided by an editorial board with expertise in journalism, ethics, demography, health services administration and geriatrics, according to George Martin, editor-in-chief and professor of pathology and genome sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Gerontology has its roots in the biological, medical and social sciences," he says. "We hope it will be possible to eventually launch a sister site that is devoted to the needs of academic and practicing physicians. Meanwhile, we are delighted to welcome the SAGE Crossroads sister site, which will emphasize public policy aspects of gerontology."
"Our goal is to help educate policy makers, government officials, and journalists about current research on aging as well as the implications of this research on future policy issues and decisions," says Kelly LaMarco, editor of SAGE. "As the publishers of SAGE KE, AAAS is in a terrific position to provide Crossroads with precise coverage of current research on the biology of aging."
Perry says that in the last 50 years there has been an outpouring of research describing the aging process, often without the public education that can aid in understanding. "Now researchers are beginning to find ways to intervene in that process," he says. "When such information is sprung upon people unawares, they often react with bewilderment and fear. We see that especially with the cloning debate. This creates a confused and agitated environment for debate, which is good neither for science nor public policy."
The better approach, Perry says, is to sponsor informed discussion of how we, as a society, might deal with changes in the process of aging.
"One fundamental question is whether or not it's appropriate for science to delve into the biology of aging with the view toward modifying that process," Perry says. "Is it good for individuals and society to extend the healthy, productive years of a human's life? Or could there be a downside, in terms of overopulation, intergenerational equity, and overstratification of social positions?"
Another very basic question is whether or not the current formula for distributing the goods of societyi.e., the fact that people over the age of 65 get both income and medical subsidies from the governmentis fair. "Some people say the whole system should be upended so that children get more government aid," Perry says. "This is a fundamental debate we'd like to explore."
Transcripts of the first debate, on February 12, are available on the SAGE Crossroads website. Morton Kondracke (executive editor of Roll Call), Francis Fukuyama (professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution"), and Ronald Bailey (science editor of Reason magazine) discussed "The Promise and Pitfalls of Aging Research."
The next topic will feature Gregory Stock and Bill McKibben discussing "Re-engineering the Human Race: Yes/No?" on 27 March 2003 at 3pm (EST).
6 March 2003