The Science of Aging: Spring 2020 Newsletter is now available!

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 12.36.30 PMSpring 2020 Features:


  • Another Take on Bench-To-Bedside: Inspired to pursue a career in medicine and research
  • COVID-19: Why Older Adults are At Higher Risk
  • Keeping Connected While Keeping Your Distance: Social Distancing and Telemedicine
  • Common Muscle Relaxant Shows Potential to Treat Neurodegeneration
  • Upcoming Event Information

Scroll for links to full stories:

Another Take on Bench-to-Bedside: Inspired to pursue a career in medicine and research

In a recent Penn Medicine News Blog series on Match Day 2020, Sneha Narasimhan, MD/PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) and researcher in the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), shared what inspired her to pursue a career in both medicine and research.

Narasimhan is an aspiring neurology with a complimentary focus on neurodegenerative disease research.

“ Everyone around the hospital bed looked at me, waiting for my decision — I could feel the palpable tension in the room as I grappled with a true life-or-death situation. I knew my medical school education was supposed to train me for this moment, but never before had I felt so unprepared. My eyes turned to the elderly woman in the bed, watching her grimace, almost as if she were in pain. That was enough to make up my mind, so I said, “It’s time to let her go.” Minutes later, my grandmother passed away peacefully.”

COVID-19: Why Older Adults Are At Higher Risk

In a recent article, the Administration for Community Living ( explains that one reason why older adults are more likely to suffer serious complications related to the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, may be because as we age, our immune sys- tems change making it harder to fight off diseases and infection. Additionally, older adults are more likely to have underlying health conditions which naturally make it harder to recover from other illnesses.

However, there are other factors that can increase risk even further. These include:

· Living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
· Chronic lung disease or moderate-to-severe asthma
· Compromised immune systems due to cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplant, etc…

As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and search for treatment, it is important for everyone to take the known precautionary steps to lower their chances of exposure and to stop the spread of the disease.

· Social distancing
· Frequent hand washing
· Avoid touching your face
· Properly cover coughs and sneezes
· Frequently clean and disinfect homes and work areas

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at:

Keeping Connected While Keeping Your Distance

While researchers tirelessly search for cures and healthcare heroes selflessly care for the sickest patients, it’s easy for the rest of us to feel a little helpless in the fight against Covid-19, but that is not the case. We all have a role to play in flattening the curve, and for those of us who are not on the frontlines, our job is a simple, yet important one: social distancing.

Common Muscle Relaxant Shows Potential to Treat Neurodegeneration

The medication dantrolene is a common muscle relaxant used to prevent or treat muscle stiffness or spasm. However, Penn Medicine researchers have recently shown that it also has the potential to treat neurodegeneration.

In a first-of-its-kind study led by Huafeng Wei, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, findings reveal that delivering the medication through the nose rather than the mouth may help it to penetrate the brain more effectively, potentially maximizing its therapeutic effects in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Event Information

Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Institute on Aging (IOA) and Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) has canceled their newly combined IOA & CNDR Research Retreat originally scheduled for May 15, 2020. Please stay tuned for the new date.

Penn Medicine’s 9th Annual 5K for the IOA & The Memory Mile Walk is currently scheduled for October 11, 2020. Event details are subject to change.

  • Event information will be updated online as it becomes available here.

Download the Full Spring 2020 Science of Aging Newsletter here.

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