Aging is topic of 2012 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Roger McCarter, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, will present the 2012 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture. His lecture, "The Immortal Lives of Hypotheses on Aging," will be given at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.

The title of McCarter's talk is influenced by the Rebecca Skloot book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," which chronicles how Lacks' cancer cells were harvested by researchers in the 1950s and have been kept alive for research ever since.

"Just like Lacks' cells, there are theories and hypotheses of aging that are never thoroughly proven or rejected but come back into favor again and again," said McCarter. "My talk will discuss the various theories and hypotheses of aging that have been proposed and provide an assessment, based on my own research results, of their validity."

McCarter is internationally recognized as a major architect of the present structure of gerontological science. His innovative research on the physiology of aging muscle and on the effects of dietary restriction and exercise on aging processes has provided a major feature of the physical and biological perspectives by which contemporary gerontologists explore the phenomenon of aging.

Most of McCarter’s aging research has employed rodent models. He has shown that rats and mice that ate 40 percent fewer calories daily lived approximately 40 percent longer than their counterparts that ate without restrictions. The calorie-restricted rats also exercised much more than their counterparts. According to McCarter, caloric restriction improves an organism’s health span by slowing the deterioration of bodily processes that occur naturally with increased age, by stimulating healing processes at the cellular and microscopic levels, and by inhibiting or slowing the progress of many diseases associated with age.

McCarter was elected as president of the Gerontological Society of America in 2007; served as president of the Pan American Congress on Gerontology from 1995 to 1999; was president of the International Biogerontology Resources Institute from 2003 to 2007; and is currently president of the American Federation for Aging Research. For his service, he received the Presidential Medal of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics in 2009.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, McCarter was deputy chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and a doctorate in physiology at the Medical College of Virginia.

The Schmitt Russell Research Lecture is delivered each year by the most recent recipient of the Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Research Achievement Award, which recognizes the career-long research contributions of a distinguished faculty member whose research has had a profound impact on an identified field of study. The award was established by Leo P. Russell, a 1941 industrial engineering graduate, to honor his late wife, Pauline Schmitt Russell, who received her home economics degree from Penn State in 1948.

For additional information, contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or


Last Updated January 09, 2015