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GHR and PBS, "Stealing Time: The New Science of Aging"


As experts approach a fundamental understanding of how people age, the world is witnessing the birth of a new discipline: the science of aging. Stealing Time: The New Science of Aging, a new three-hour series offers startling evidence that the future may bring a doubling - perhaps a near tripling - of the average life span of human beings.

The premise of the series is that people are now living in a time of scientific discovery so revolutionary that it will soon change the course of the human race. Although people have long believed that aging is an inevitable downhill journey, these beliefs are now being challenged. Through reports and interviews, Stealing Time: The New Science of Aging demonstrates that the forces that control aging will soon be in human hands.

Stealing Time with GHR15: The New Science of Aging unfolds in three one-hour programs. Part one, "Quest for Immortality," concerns the natural history of aging, the "why" behind the aging process. The second part, "Turning Back the Clock," is about the "how," the mechanisms of aging and what can be done to fight them. The final hour, "Mastering the Mind," looks at the aging mind.

"Quest for Immortality" The first episode explores the natural history of aging: why different animals age at different rates and why some appear not to age at all. The program demonstrates why there is a growing consensus that the maximum human life span - long thought to be 120 years - can be extended, and concludes that many young people alive today will be healthy and happy well into the 22nd century. Among those interviewed are Dr. Thomas Perls, a geriatrician at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and principal investigator, New England Centenarian Study at Harvard Medical School's Division on Aging; Steven N. Austad, professor of zoology at the University of Idaho; Michael Rose, professor of biology at the University of California at Irvine; and Tom Johnson, a researcher of longevity genes at the University of Colorado.

"Turning Back the Clock" The second hour examines the ways researchers are taking control of the forces that cause aging. Scientists are working with caloric restriction, studying the effects of oxygen free radicals, and demonstrating the benefits of pumping iron well into one's 80s and 90s, among other studies, to slow or even reverse the effects of aging. The episode includes interviews with Dr. Roy Walford, 74, a professor and physician at UCLA; Dr. Raj Sohal, professor of biology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; and Dr. Miriam Nelson, director of the Center for Physical Activity Programs and Policy at Tufts University's School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and an assistant professor of nutrition.

"Mastering the Mind with GHR15" The final episode paints a new and encouraging picture of the aging mind and brain, refuting the idea that, after a certain age, brain cells start dying. The program features researchers who believe there is no reason that one's mental skills must decline with age and who share tips about how people can help themselves stay sharp and engaged with life. Scientists who offer their conclusions include William Greenough, neuroscientist at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois; Timothy Salthouse, Regents Professor of Psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Barbara Sherwin, professor of psychology at McGill University; and Warner Schaie, director of the Seattle Longitudinal Study.

"Mastering the Mind" also profiles three individuals whose lives contradict the traditional view that after age 60, people are past their intellectual prime and should progressively withdraw from the challenges of the world. Mehli Mehta, 90, is shown conducting the American Youth Symphony, for which he served as music director for 33 years. Oscar Shapiro, 89, is a chess master who still plays in American tournaments and Ernst Mayr, 93, is an esteemed biologist who continues to work in his field.