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History

The American Aging Association was launched at a special luncheon meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, October 19, 1970.  Organized by a group of distinguished medical doctors and scientists who wanted a specific organization dedicated to aging research.  Patterned after the American Heart Association, the Association is defined as a non-profit, tax-exempt national organization of lay and scientific members dedicated to:
  1. Promote biomedical aging studies directed toward slowing down the aging process(es)
  2. Keep the public informed of the progress of aging research and of practical means of achieving a long and healthy life.
  3. Increase knowledge of gerontology among physicians and other members of the health team.
The driving force behind the formation of the Association was Denham Harman, MD, PhD, a professor at the University of Nebraska School of Medicine.  Dr. Harman was one of the few researchers at that time, to show positive results in the drive to conquer aging.  He is best known for his work with BHT, a common nutritional substance that he has used to buffer free radical reactions that may be involved in the aging process.  Dr. Harman incorporated AGE in Omaha, Nebraska and served as its first president.   Joining Dr. Harman in forming the organization are Morris Rockstein, PhD, professor of Physiology and Radiology at the University of Miami, Harold Brody, PhD, MD, professor of Anatomy, State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine, and Joseph T. Freeman, MD, Consultant in Geriatrics, U.S. Veterans Administrative Hospital in Coatesville, PA   Dr. Harman and the organizers served on the first Board of Directors.  Dr. Harman also served as Executive Director from 1973 to 1993.

Substantial funding had been provided in the early years by industrial sources as a result of the wide popularity of a book that promoted the free radical theory of aging by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, long-time members.

Several state chapters were affiliated with the Association in the early years to draw attention to the public for the necessity for support of programs to eliminate aging.  The formation of the Association also led to the development of affiliated groups, the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology in 1985 and the American College of Clinical Gerontology in 1986.

The Vice President of the Association was designated as a layperson position to emphasize the intention to reach out from the scientific community to laypersons interested in the development of late-onset interventions in degenerative disease from a basic research perspective. 

Each year, the Association provides an annual conference to share aging research and to recognize and award young investigators with disciplines in aging research.  In the early years, the meeting rotated between New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.   Currently, the conference locations are selected throughout the United States and are held in the first week of June. 

Establishment of Awards

Distinguished Achievement

Established and presented in 1978, this award is presented to an active older individual to call attention to the obvious, but often overlooked, fact that older individuals can live full, productive, useful lives.

Denham Harman Research Award

This award established in 1978 and was named to honor Dr. Denham Harman, a co-founder of AGE.  The award honors a person who has made significant contributions to biomedical aging research. 

Walter R. Nicolai Award

Through the generosity of the Paul F. Glenn Foundation, a prize was established in 1982 in the name of Walter Nicolai, (a long-time board member of AGE who was killed in a skiing accident in 1982) for meritorious research by a graduate or medical student in the area of biomedical gerontology.

Paul F. Glenn Award

To award a post-doctorial candidate who has made special contributions to biomedical aging research.  This award was established in 1985 to honor Mr. Paul F. Glenn for his long-term active support of biomedical aging research through the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research.

Clinical Research Award

This award is given in joint presentation with the American College of Clinical Gerontology and the American Aging Association and was established in1989. 

Journalism Award

This award was established in 1992 to honor journalists who have contributed significantly to the general public’s knowledge and understanding of biomedical aging research and its potential to enhance our lives.

Leonard Hayflick Award

This lectureship was established in 1995 by Dr. Michael Fossel in homage to Dr. Leonard Hayflick, to recognize an individual’s research and prominence in the field and is intended to answer three questions each year:

  1. What were the most important unanswered research questions in aging
  2. In the context of what we know, what makes these the most important questions
  3. How, specifically, can we set out to address these questions

The Hayflick award is to give new researchers and graduate students a "map" of where the field should go, why, and how to get there, all from the point of view of someone with sufficient perspective and intelligence to offer such advice.

Research Fund 

Established in 1987 by Arthur K. Balin, MD, PhD, FACP with the first donation.  The interest of the fund will be available for the direct support of basic and clinical research designated to productive and functional life span of people.

AGE Journal

First published in 1970 and in 1978; the AGE scientific journal was then published.  The purpose of the journal is to further the objectives of the American Aging Association by providing rapid publication of papers pertinent to biomedical aging research.  Dr. Harman served as Editor-in-Chief until 1992.  Dr. Arthur Balin was then elected Editor-in-Chief and served until January 2003.  The current Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Donald K. Ingram and the journal is now available in print and online.