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Editorial IBSA21 Jun 20237 min read

Culture and Longevity

Given the relevance of aging in Swiss society the Forum aimed to promote awareness about aging in both the scientific community and the population. The Forum entitled “Culture and Longevity” brought together international experts from various disciplines (Biology, Psychology and Epidemiology) to discuss aging from their perspectives.


The first part of the Forum focused on the biology of aging and age-related disorders. The experts presented the latest findings in the molecular, cellular, and organismal basis of aging, offering an opportunity to learn and discuss novel concepts and current challenges.
The second part of the Forum dealt with the critical role of social connections, culture and the arts in shaping our happiness, health and longevity, merging epidemiological and scientific data with psychological aspects. Studies showing how culture and the arts increase people's life expectancy were also presented.

The Forum emphasized the need for interdisciplinary collaboration between healthcare practitioners, researchers and experts from other fields to establish aging-longevity medicine as a strong clinical and academic specialty. By working together, professionals from various disciplines can bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the table, leading to better approaches and solutions to aging-related issues.

The event was organized by IBSA Foundation and ETH Zurich.





Andrea Alimonti - Professor of Experimental Oncology at ETH Zürich and at Università della Svizzera Italiana, ERC Investigator, EMBO YIP, Head Molecular Oncology Institute of Oncology Research and member of Scientific Board of IBSA Foundation for scientific research (Switzerland)

Silvia Misiti - Director of IBSA Foundation for scientific research (Switzerland)

Christian Wolfrum - Vice President for Research and Full Professor of the Institute of Food Nutrition and Health at the ETH Zurich and member of Scientific Board of IBSA Foundation for scientific research (Switzerland)



  • Hallmarks of Aging
    Prof. Guido Kroemer (France)

    Three criteria that must be met for each hallmark of aging: (1) the time-dependent manifestation of alterations accompanying the aging process, (2) the possibility to accelerate aging by experimentally accentuating the hallmark, and—most decisively—(3) the opportunity to decelerate, halt or reverse aging by therapeutic interventions on the hallmark. During recent years we and others have accumulated data indicating that disabled autophagy fulfills these criteria in thus far that (i) autophagy progressively declines with age in model organisms, (ii) genetic or pharmacological inhibition of autophagy accelerates aging, as well as the manifestation of age-related diseases including cancer, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and (iii) experimental autophagy enhancement extends healthspan and lifespan. 

  • Stem cell aging and rejuvenation: An epigenetic journey
    Prof. Thomas Rando (USA)

    Stem cells exhibit age-related declines in functionality, leading to impairments of tissue homeostasis and repair. Those changes are a result of both intrinsic mechanisms (e.g., genomic instability, impaired proteostasis, etc.), as well as extrinsic influences from their niche and their system environment. As such, intracellular and extracellular stresses can accelerate the rate of decline in stem cell function. However, it has become increasingly clear in recent years that aging phenotypes can be reversed, at least partially and temporarily, by interventions that restore a more youthful epigenome in stem cells throughout the body. Explorations of various interventions (e.g., dietary, pharmacologic, parabioitic, exercise, etc.) have revealed mechanisms of epigenetic rejuvenation that have the potential to translate into therapies to extend healthspan in humans by enhancing tissue homeostasis and regeneration.

  • Social Connections, Health and Longevity:  Lessons from the Harvard Study of Adult Development and Beyond 
    Prof. Marc Schulz (USA)

    The talk will highlight research findings and lessons from the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has closely followed individuals from over 700 families from adolescence all the way to the end of their lives and now follows more than 1,300 children of the original participants.  Our findings and those of other studies point to the critical role of social connections in shaping our happiness, health and longevity.  The talk will discuss ways in which society hinders or facilitates connection.  

  • The role of arts and cultural engagement in healthy aging
    Jessica Bone (UK)

    In this talk, I will discuss evidence on the role of arts and cultural engagement in supporting health in older age. Using epidemiological analyses of data from cohort studies in the US, UK, and internationally, I will outline findings showing that arts and cultural engagement is associated with lower risk of dementia, frailty, and depression, enhanced wellbeing and subjective and objective perceptions of health, and even a longer life.



Guido Kroemr

Prof. Guido Kroemer (France)
Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris Cité, Director of the research team "Metabolism, Cancer and Immunity" of the French Medical Research Council

Guido Kroemer is currently Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris-Cité, Director of the research team "Metabolism, Cancer and Immunity" of the French Medical Research Council (INSERM), Director of the Metabolomics and Cell Biology platforms of the Gustave Roussy Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Hospital Practitioner at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. Dr. Kroemer’s work focuses on the pathophysiological implications of cell stress and death in the context of aging, cancer and inflammation. He discovered the ignition of regulated cell death pathways by mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, the cytoprotective and antiaging effects of macroautophagy, as well as the decisive role of immunogenic cell death in anticancer treatments. With over 1500 articles including 63 papers in the ‘CNS’ Journals Cell (13 papers), Nature (5), Nature Medicine (21), Science (18) and Science Translational Medicine (6) and an h-index of 275, he the European Union’s most cited researcher in biomedical research and the worldwide most cited researcher in Biology and Biochemistry ( His contributions have been recognized with multiple awards including the most prestigious cancer research prizes from Belgium (Baillet-Latour Health Prize), France (Prix Duquesne, Prix Léopold Griffuel, Grand Prix Ruban Rose) and Switzerland (Brupbacher Prize), the European Union-sponsored Descartes Prize, as well as the most important Italian science prize (Lombardia & Ricerca Prize). Kroemer is the founding Editor-in-Chief of five journals: Cell Death & Disease, Cell Stress, OncoImmunology, Microbial Cell, and Molecular & Cellular Oncology. He is member of the Academia Europaea, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering, European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS), European Academy of Sciences (EAS), European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA), European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) and Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences. He is the Founding President of the European Academy of Tumor Immunology (EATI). 


Thomas Rando

Prof. Thomas Rando (USA)
Director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Professor of Neurology and of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA and Professor at Stanford University

Dr. Rando is the Director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA where he is a professor of Neurology and Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. His lab has been a leader in both stem cell biology and the biology of aging, having pioneered the use of heterochronic parabiosis in the study of molecular, cellular, and organismal aging. He has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and he is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Rando is also a scientific founder and Chairman of the Board of Fountain Therapeutics, a platform company based on the understanding of cellular aging for drug discovery for the treatment of chronic-age related diseases.


Marc Schulz

Prof. Marc Schulz (USA)
Associate Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, Professor of Psychology and Director of Data Science at Bryn Mawr College

Marc Schulz is an award winning professor and a co-author, along with Robert Waldinger, of the New York Times Bestselling book, The Good Life: Lessons from the Worlds Longest Scientific Study of Happiness.  He is the Associate Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and the Sue Kardas PhD 1971 Professor of Psychology at Bryn Mawr College.  He also directs the Data Science Program and previously chaired the psychology department and Clinical Developmental Psychology PhD program at Bryn Mawr. Dr. Schulz received his BA in Sociology from Amherst College and his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.


Jess Bone

Dr. Jessica Bone (UK)
Research Fellow in Statistics/Epidemiology, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, University College London (UK)

Dr Jess Bone is a Research Fellow in Statistics/Epidemiology in the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care at University College London (UCL). She is a member of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Arts & Health at UCL. Dr Bone works on the EpiArts project, a collaboration between UCL and the University of Florida, which aims to investigate the associations between arts and cultural engagement and health and wellbeing at the population level.


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Marc Schulz

Jessica Bone: 

Christian Wolfrum

Luigi di Corato


Full video