News and Events

May 19, 2016  The Columbia Aging Center’s John W. Rowe, MD, will speak in Greenwich in celebration of Older Americans Month. He will be the featured speaker for the Inaugural Signature Lecture Series on Aging presented by the Greenwich Commission on Aging.

Dr. Rowe will address how dramatic increases in life expectancy and aging raise the question of how best to re-engineer America’s core societal institutions, such as education, work, retirement, leisure and health care to assure that society can support the future elderly population.

May 12, 2016  Dr. Ursula Staudinger is featured in Anil Ananthaswamy's piece about the wisdom of the aging brain. The article discusses the general and personal wisdom and the mechanics of the mind. and spoke to Dr. Ursula Staudinger about wisdom, aging and the mechanics of the mind. 

Aging diminishes what Baltes and Staudinger called the “mechanics” of the mind—which depend on the biology of the brain, such as the number of neurons, the connectivity, metabolism, and the speed at which the brain can process new information. The mechanics of the mind reach their peak around the age of 25 to 30, and then decline steadily.

Many studies have shown that the aging brain gets slower. For instance, the ability to carry out mental operations definitely declines. As does our capacity for episodic memory and executive function (which is necessary for planning, multitasking, and verbal fluency, among other tasks), due to dysfunctions in the medial temporal lobe memory system and the frontostriatal networks, important for executive function.

But all’s not lost. “What doesn’t go down is reasoning and cognition that is based on knowledge and experience,” says Staudinger. This ability, which reaches its peak between the ages of 40 and 50, and then stays stable and declines only during the final years of one’s life, could contribute to wisdom, as long as we stay mentally active and engaged. Evidence from studies of rhesus monkeys supports this observation. This involves structures called dendritic spines, which protrude from one neuron’s dendrite toward another neuron’s axon. These spines have a neck and a head. Those with long necks and small heads decline with age, but the shorter, stubbier “mushroom spines,” hypothesized to be “locus of long-term memories,” don’t decline. That potentially explains why our ability to learn new things suffers as we age, yet abilities that depend on lifelong learning (such as playing a musical instrument) don’t. 

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On May 16th at 11 am, the Columbia Aging Center welcomes Thomas Rapp, PhD, Harkness fellow at Harvard's School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management.  Dr. Rapp's talk "Impact of State Medicaid Generosity for Home- and Community-Based Services on Nursing Home Entry" will be held in ARB Room 416. Please RSVP to if you wish to attend this talk by Thomas Rapp on Monday, May 16th at 11 a.m. in ARB Room 416, 722 West 168th Street.

An International Conference on Demography was held earlier this year in Opole, Poland, which is one of the so-called demographic regions of the European Union. With high emigration and low birth rates, Opole faces an uncertain future as several other areas in Poland. What impact does demographic change have on society and the labor force? And how can demographic change be tackled? These questions were of great interest to the guests present from business, politics and science.

Writing in her Wall Street Journal blog, the Washington Wire, journalist Jennifer Levitz explores the effect of the presidential candidates' ages within the primary process in her piece "Age-old issue gets diminished in Election 2016."  For example, Ronald Reagan was almost 70 when he was inaugurated; the oldest president in history.

The Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society cordially invite you to the opening reception for the art exhibit "Reflections on Aging” on Friday 6 May, 2016, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm, in the Heyman Center, Board Room.

[Directions to the Heyman Center]

The Columbia Aging Center and the Mailman School's Department of Epigenetics welcome Dr. Sarah Tom, PhD, MPH, from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacology, on Friday, May 6th.  Dr.

On Tuesday, May 10th the Columbia Aging Center welcomes Dr. Philipp Hessel, David E. Bell Fellow from Harvard School of Public Health, to speak in our Brown Bag Seminar series. His talk is entitled, "Protecting health in hard times: The changing role of families in mitigating adverse effects of labor market shocks." It will be held on the fourth floor of the Allan Rosenfield Building, in room ARB 440 (722 West 168th Street) on Tuesday, May 10th from 1:00 - 2:30pm. To read more about the Dr. Hessel and his talk, please read below. 


Creator of the Age Smart Employer Awards, the Center's associate director, Ruth Finkelstein, ScD, was featured in a March 9th piece by Carol Hymowitz in Bloomberg Businessweek: "Why Brooks Brothers Is Investing in Veteran Tailors."


Join us on Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 5 p.m. for our Spring Distinguished Lecture "Bone as a Rheostat of Aging" given by Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD.  This is the culmination of our series: "BIOLOGIES" OF AGING?