Lack of consensus on an aging biology paradigm? A global survey reveals an agreement to disagree, and the need for an interdisciplinary framework

Alan A. Cohen*, Brian K. Kennedy, Ulrich Anglas, Anne M. Bronikowski, Joris Deelen, Frédérik Dufour, Gerardo Ferbeyre, Luigi Ferrucci, Claudio Franceschi, Daniela Frasca, Bertrand Friguet, Pierrette Gaudreau, Vadim N. Gladyshev, Efstathios S. Gonos, Vera Gorbunova, Philipp Gut, Mikhail Ivanchenko, Véronique Legault, Jean François Lemaître, Thomas LiontisGuang Hui Liu, Mingxin Liu, Andrea B. Maier, Otávio T. Nóbrega, Marcel G.M. Olde Rikkert, Graham Pawelec, Sylvie Rheault, Alistair M. Senior, Andreas Simm, Sonja Soo, Annika Traa, Svetlana Ukraintseva, Quentin Vanhaelen, Jeremy M. Van Raamsdonk, Jacek M. Witkowski, Anatoliy I. Yashin, Robert Ziman, Tamàs Fülöp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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At a recent symposium on aging biology, a debate was held as to whether or not we know what biological aging is. Most of the participants were struck not only by the lack of consensus on this core question, but also on many basic tenets of the field. Accordingly, we undertook a systematic survey of our 71 participants on key questions that were raised during the debate and symposium, eliciting 37 responses. The results confirmed the impression from the symposium: there is marked disagreement on the most fundamental questions in the field, and little consensus on anything other than the heterogeneous nature of aging processes. Areas of major disagreement included what participants viewed as the essence of aging, when it begins, whether aging is programmed or not, whether we currently have a good understanding of aging mechanisms, whether aging is or will be quantifiable, whether aging will be treatable, and whether many non-aging species exist. These disagreements lay bare the urgent need for a more unified and cross-disciplinary paradigm in the biology of aging that will clarify both areas of agreement and disagreement, allowing research to proceed more efficiently. We suggest directions to encourage the emergence of such a paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111316
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Early online date18 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Aging interventions
  • Aging mechanisms
  • Aging paradigm
  • Biology of aging
  • Epidemiology of aging
  • Evolution of aging
  • Philosophy of science


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