Public lecture: Prospects of Longevity

Ageing is a vital topic in today’s world. With the growing ageing population and all concerns that are raised with this, it is important to understand what the future will bring in this respect. Until now, life expectancy has been steadily increasing and most scientists agree that there is as of yet no foreseeable stop towards this trend.
The extent to which our longevity will grow is however still open for debate. The trend will have great implications for societies worldwide. In this ‘Prospects of Longevity’ lecture we will delve into several aspects of the increasing life expectancy. The main questions that will be discussed are: is there a limit to how old we can get? And – if yes – where do we see this limit considering current scientific evidence?
Prof. Westendorp will discuss in what way demographic and medical-technological changes have fuelled the increasing life expectancy we see nowadays. Due to the advances in medicine we are able to cure a large proportion of infectious diseases that were especially present among our younger population, he has identified. In the Netherlands, virtually all of us now reach the age of 65 and a large proportion even becomes older. Babies that are born nowadays in the Netherlands can even expect to live until a 100 years. On the basis of this evidence he will extrapolate what we can expect in the coming decades.
Based on his experience in biomedical technology, Dr. Aubrey de Grey will present a different view. His prominent claim is that we can extend the life-span unlimited with current and future technological development. By addressing the underlying mechanisms of ageing, such as for instance changes in the nuclear DNA, mitochondrial mutations, accumulation of damaged molecules, cell loss and cellular senescence, we will be able to extend our life span according to Aubrey de Grey. Moreover he claims that even today we already have the biomedical technologies to actually remedy these mechanisms and he will put them forward in detail during this lecture.

Both views predict our longevity will be extended, but the debate in which way and how long will be open to the public.


Programme Prospects of Longevity
11 October 2011
19:00 Introduction
Marieke van der Waal, Msc
Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing

19:15 A demographic perspective on life expectancy
Rudi Westendorp, PhD, MD
Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing & LUMC
19:45 Short break
20:00 An engineering view on life expectancy
Aubrey de Grey, PhD
SENS foundation
21:00 Discussion

21:30 Drinks


The lecture will take place in the Theaterzaal of the Scheltema complex, Marktsteeg 1, Leiden.
Attendance is free of charge and registration can be done via this online form.