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COMPLEX TIME: Adaptation, Aging, & Arrow of Time

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Aging in Single-celled Organisms: from Bacteria to the Whole Tree of Life/MartinPicard

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Notes by user Martin Picard (Columbia University) for Aging in Single-celled Organisms: from Bacteria to the Whole Tree of Life

Post-meeting Reflection

1+ paragraphs on any combination of the following:

  • Presentation highlights
  • Open questions that came up
  • How your perspective changed
  • Impact on your own work
  • e.g. the discussion on [A] that we are having reminds me of [B] conference/[C] initiative/[D] funding call-for-proposal/[E] research group

Experimental models to study cellular aging vary dramatically.

We clearly need a consensus definition of aging, or more specific concepts. Is aging the loss of specific functions, the loss in the ability to divide, "senescence" (which itself does not have a consensus definition), the movement towards mortality, or the accumulation of "information" over time? Can there be a single definition of aging across the tree of life - from single cells to complex multicellular organisms like mammals?

If the definition is a functional one - aging is the loss in the ability to perform X function, then aging needs to be contextualized. Organisms at different scales (prokaryotes vs birds vs humans) have dramatically different "purpose" in the living world, and they carry out very different functions. Is there one type of aging that unites them all? Or qualitatively different forms of aging, or aging processes?

An interdependent challenge with the previous one is the issue of measurement. What are good measures of aging - again it depends on how it is defined.

If aging is defined as something that tells us how close to death an organism is to end of life (i.e,, mortality) or to loss of function, then it implies that aging biomarkers need to be developed prospectively. In other words, the aging marker need to predict some future behavior. One example is the DNA methylation or epigenetic clocks.

Reference material notes

Some examples:

  • Here is [A] database on [B] that I pull data from to do [C] analysis that might be of interest to this group (insert link).
  • Here is a free tool for calculating [ABC] (insert link)
  • This painting/sculpture/forms of artwork is emblematic to our discussion on [X]!
  • Schwartz et al. 2017 offers a review on [ABC] migration as relate to climatic factors (add the reference as well).

Reference Materials