University of Minnesota Alumni Association


Editor's Note

When it comes to the truly big questions in life, it’s reassuring to know that there are people out there who are taking big, hard swings as they search for answers.

Our cover story this issue serves as a perfect example.

Few discoveries would have a more dramatic impact on our collective lives than revealing the mysteries behind aging. That’s the intriguing question that drives the work of Laura Niedernhofer, M.D., director of the U of M’s Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism (iBAM). Her partner, Paul Robbins, is a professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics, and associate director of the Institute; he also serves as a member of the U of M’s Medical Discovery Team on the Biology of Aging.

Their work, along with that of more than 100 graduate students in the six related labs of iBAM, shows the often quiet—but potentially extraordinary—research that takes place every day inside the historic buildings on the Twin Cities campus.

The mandate at iBAM is to unwind the biological actions behind aging, and then, if possible, find a way to use therapeutics to address those problems on a holistic scale. Success in answering the very big question of “Can we ‘cure’ aging?” could help all of us live better, longer. It’s a fascinating read.

The work of the Niedernhofer/Robbins labs is groundbreaking, but it’s certainly not alone at the University. The U of M is considered one of the top research universities in the nation. It’s also one of only five universities to have an engineering school, medical school, law school, veterinary medicine school, and agricultural school all on one campus.

In each of those areas and more, focused research takes place every day, with experts tackling similarly big questions in their respective fields. Along the way, all of these scholars are also educating the next generation of researchers who will push further and answer even more big questions during the course of their careers.

The mission statement at the U of M says, “The University of Minnesota System is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota.”

That guiding light benefits everyone in our state and touches every corner of the world. It’s work for the greater good in every sense.

If you liked this story, Minnesota Alumni magazine publishes four times a year highlighting U of M alumni and University activities. Early access to stories and a print subscription are benefits of being an Alumni Association member. Join here to receive a printed copy at home.

Read More