Jennifer Garrison, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Faculty Director of the Global Consortium for Female Reproductive Longevity and Equality, and co-Director of the Buck-USC Biology of Aging PhD Program. She holds secondary appointments in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC)...
Reframing Health and Aging through the Lens of Reproduct
Jennifer’s background and expertise have led her to conclude that the hypothalamus is the master regulator of homeostasis, and is likely involved in the earliest age-related declines. One key aspect that the hypothalamus seems to be intimately linked with is reproductive aging.
Reproductive aging, at least in females, occurs much more rapidly than other forms of functional decline. Because of this, even though women live longer they spend more of their lives in poor health.
Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Eggs attrition over the course of the life, dropping from ~1 million just after birth to roughly 300,000 by the time a woman reaches puberty. During each ovulation cycle 1000 eggs are lost. Once the egg number declines past a critical threshold, menopause occurs. Currently we do not understand how this whole post-birth attrition process occurs. However, we do know that ovaries age much more rapidly than the rest of the body.
Menopause has a profound negative effect on women’s health, and there is evidence that menopause accelerates biological aging. Women who undergo menopause at older ages tend to live longer. Whats odd is that there are only 5 species on the planet that undergo true menopause – humans, and four species of whales.
It’s weird that we don’t seem to understand a lot of the basic science here, but historically biomedical research has used male models for studying disease to remove the variables induced by monthly hormonal cycles. 80% of drugs pulled from the market were because of adverse affects to women, a direct result of male-biased drug discovery methods.
The healthcare costs of menopause are in excess of $600 billion per year. Roughly 1 billion women will be actively in menopause by 2030.
Garrison is starting a global consortium for reproductive longevity and equality in labs around the world – so far one is north of San Francisco at the Buck Institute and the second one is in Singapore. The ecosystem will help with funding, resources, collaboration, and the creation of opportunities in reproductive aging research.
More information can be found at gcrle.org
Why do humans undergo menopause, given that it’s not a common feature?
Why does age at menopause correlate with lifespan?
Why does age at menopause vary so widely between individuals?
Can we identify a baseline of reproductive health and create snapshots of reproductive health at various stages?