UNMC News

Pioneer in geriatric medicine Robert Neil Butler, M.D., to be guest speaker for April 12 Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D., Lectureship in Biomedical Gerontology

Robert Neil Butler, M.D., gerontologist, psychiatrist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will be the guest speaker for the 2007 Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D., Lectureship in Biomedical Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Thursday, April 12, in the UNMC Eppley Science Hall Amphitheater.
 
The talk, which is sponsored by the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, is titled, “The Longevity Dividend: Sense and Nonsense,” which focuses on why it is critical to set aside new resources to better understand how and why we grow old and live as long as we do.
 
The lectureship was established by the University of Nebraska Foundation to honor the scientific achievements of Dr. Harman, 91, UNMC emeritus professor of internal medicine. Dr. Harman is known internationally as the father of the free radical theory of aging and is credited with discovering the role of antioxidants (vitamins C, E and beta-carotene) in fighting heart disease and cancer.
 
Dr. Butler, 80, is known for his work on the social needs and the rights of the elderly and for his research on healthy aging and dementia. He was a principal investigator of one of the first interdisciplinary, comprehensive, longitudinal studies of healthy community-residing older persons, conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health (1955-1966), which resulted in the landmark book Human Aging.
His research helped establish the fact that senility was not inevitable with aging, but rather a consequence of disease.
 
Dr. Butler is president and CEO of the International Longevity Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, a center for policy, research and education on population aging.
 
When he became the first director in 1975 of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he established Alzheimer’s disease as a national research priority. At the time, he found only 12 grants at the NIH pertaining to aging and the brain.
 
Steven Wengel, M.D., professor and chairman, UNMC Department of Psychiatry, said the department is looking forward to his visit.
 
“He is one of the pioneers of geriatric medicine. It’s an honor to have him as our speaker,” Dr. Wengel said. “His visit to Nebraska is fitting. We have a large population of elderly. We hope he will help us encourage more people to go into gerontology, a very fulfilling area of medicine. He’s a very active person and good role model.”
 
In 1982, Dr. Butler founded the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the first department of geriatrics in a United States medical school. In 1990, he established the U.S. branch of the International Longevity Center (ILC) at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Butler is best known for his 1975 book Why Survive?: Being Old in America, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1976. He also wrote, “The New Love and Sex After 60,” revised in paperback in 2002.
 
He is the author of 300 scientific and medical articles.

Contact

Vicky Cerino
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-5190
vcerino@unmc.edu