loading page

I'm S. Jay Olshansky, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. I study human longevity and am part of a study group investigating whether a drug used to treat diabetes can slow the aging process. Ask me anything!
  • Jay_Olshansky ,
  • r/Science AMAs

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
r/Science AMAs
Author Profile


Hi Reddit! I am S. Jay Olshansky and I’m a professor of epidemiology in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. I’m also on the board of directors of the American Federation of Aging Research; the first author of The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging (Norton, 2001); A Measured Breath of Life(2013); and co-editor of Aging: The Longevity Dividend(Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2015). I have spearheaded The Longevity Dividend Initiative – an effort to extend the period of healthy life by slowing aging. I study the upper limits of longevity and ask which populations are living longer and why, and what that means for society. Living a longer life is a monumental achievement of public health and modern medicine – it is exactly what we set out to achieve more than a hundred years ago when life was short. More people today are living to 65, 85, and 100 and beyond than ever before, but it has created a Faustian trade. In exchange for our longer lives, we now live long enough to experience heart disease, cancer, sensory impairments, and Alzheimer’s disease. The fact is that our bodies were not “designed” for long-term use . While improved lifestyles can enhance health and quality of life, the aging process marches on unaltered beneath the surface – leading to the diseases and disorders we fear most. My research focuses on investigating ways to extend the period of healthy life and compress sickness and disease as much as possible to the very end. Recently I have teamed with a group of researchers to study the ability of the diabetes drug metformin to do just that; although metformin is just one of many research pathways scientists are pursuing to slow biological aging. My research suggests that slowing down aging will be the next great public health advance in this century because it targets multiple age-related chronic diseases. Importantly, this approach to public health can save far more health care dollars than treating one disease at a time. The time has arrived to take a new approach to chronic fatal and disabling diseases. I’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask me anything!