To err is human, to admit it is not


Mother’s Day represents the annual apex of high fructose sentimentality.  But sentimentality aside, new scientific discoveries reveal how complex our relationship with our mothers actually can be.  I’m not talking about psychological or emotional relationships, although those can be complex enough. I’m talking about our biological relationship, especially those cells from your mother’s body that still lurk inside your heart, brain, liver, and lungs and your cells that live on inside of her.

    Let me explain…


Debuting August 16, 2022

The long life of giant tortoises is legendary. I mean that in the literal sense. We know that giant tortoises live a long, long time, but exactly how long is still remarkably vague. There is a good reason for this. Unlike the marking and monitoring of bats and birds—in which researchers record initial encounters, mark individuals, and monitor those known individuals until they die or disappear—the marking and monitoring of animals that live as long as tortoises (much longer than humans) would have had to been started a couple of centuries ago, when field naturalists were much more likely to shoot rather than mark and release animals of interest. Also, because considerable acclaim and associated income attends the display of animals of exceptional longevity, age exaggeration in the “oldest animal in the world” game is rampant. Let’s examine some of the claims about tortoise longevity and judge them accordingly.

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About Me
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I am a scientist and writer. My early research was field-based. I have done field research in several parts of the United States, Venezuela, East Africa, Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea. Once I became interested in the biology of aging, my research became more laboratory oriented. Perhaps because of my background in English, I have always been eager to communicate the excitement of science to the public at large. In that capacity I have written popular books, planned museum exhibits, and produced a regular newspaper column on science.

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Steven N. Austad, Ph.D., appointed as inaugural Protective Life Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging Research at UAB

A partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Protective Life Corporation focuses on advancing the science of healthy aging, including a $1.5 million investment, announced in May, to create the Protective Life Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging Research. The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees recently approved the appointment of Steven N. Austad, Ph.D., one of the most respected minds in healthy aging research, as the inaugural Protective Life Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging Research, enabling him to build on his pioneering legacy to establish Birmingham as a global epicenter for healthy aging research.

“Dr. Austad is an international trailblazer in the science of aging, and we are thrilled to see him named as the inaugural Protective Life Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging Research at UAB,” said Rich Bielen, president and CEO of Protective. “At Protective, we are proud to be able to play a role in advancing healthy aging research, which will ultimately help people live longer, healthier lives and have a significant impact on our industry.”

Austad will lead a collaborative team of healthy aging researchers in the UAB College of Arts and SciencesMarnix E. Heersink School of MedicineSchool of Public HealthSchool of Health Professions and others on interdisciplinary research to better understand the aging process as it relates to morbidity and mortality, prepare our society for future demographic shifts, and invest in people’s well-being.

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