Friday Evening Lecture Series – Sager Lecture – “Making Your Heart Young Again”

Date(s) - 08/16/2013
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Lillie Auditorium

Friday Evening Lecture SeriesSager Lecture – “Making Your Heart Young Again”
Richard T. Lee, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Harvard Stem Cell Institute
August 16, 2013, 8:00 PM, Lillie Auditorium


RLee-JH-2MbLecture Abstract:
Aging is often considered in the context of how long we will live, but there is increasing attention to the concept of “healthspan,” defined as the duration of life when we are free of disease. The reasons why humans develop a decline in function of many organs in the latter half of life remain mysterious, including a form of heart failure that is particularly common in the elderly. In this lecture, I will describe studies performed with my colleague Amy Wagers, in which we discovered that young blood can rejuvenate the old hearts of mice. We believe this phenomenon is explained by the age-dependent failure of a new hormonal system. The decline of this hormone in blood leads to the aging of the heart, and replacement of this hormone can rejuvenate the hearts of old mice. This could provide a new way to treat heart failure in the elderly, and it raises questions of how we think about aging, lifespan and healthspan.

Richard T. Lee is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is a graduate of Harvard College in Biochemical Sciences and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College.  Dr. Lee completed his residency and cardiology fellowship, both at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is Leader of the Cardiovascular Program of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.  He is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Circulation Research and Circulation. Dr. Lee is Director of the Regenerative Medicine Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Lee has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles based on his research, which combines approaches in biotechnology and molecular biology, to discover new avenues to manage and treat heart disease. In addition, Dr. Lee is an active clinician; he regularly treats both inpatients and outpatients as a clinical cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and volunteers his time for general medical care to the homeless at a Boston-area shelter.


Ruth SagerAbout the Sager Lecture
Dr. Ruth Sager was chief of cancer genetics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a professor at Harvard Medical School where she was an acknowledged expert on suppressor genes and their relation to breast cancer. Dr. Sager was the author of more than 200 scientific papers on cancer genetics and the existence of DNA outside of cell nuclei, her first field of research, which she pursued through the study of algae. In 1988, Dr. Sager received the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal in phycology. This medal is awarded every three years in recognition of excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae. After switching her field of study to breast cancer in 1972, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and studied the disease for a year at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratory in London, England. Dr. Sager graduated from the University of Chicago. She earned a master’s degree at Rutgers University and a doctorate at Columbia University. Dr. Sager was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. She was a professor at Hunter College until 1975, when she joined Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her cancer research involved the identification of more than 40 possible tumor suppressor genes with implications in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. She also proved “by persistent counterexample, where originality leads,” according to the University of Chicago Magazine article, published in 1994 when she was named alumna of the year. Dr. Sager died of cancer in March, 1997, at the age of 79.

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