A five-member Medical School steering committee will soon survey faculty interest in the establishment of an inter-disciplinary Aging Commission.
The purpose of the Commission would be to seek means of "promoting a vigorous active old age and not to extend the period of senility and infirmity," Alexander Leaf, Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine and a member of the Med School committee, said yesterday.
Leaf stressed the importance of a comprehensive study. "A study of the aging process must deal with the social impact of longevity," he said, and added that an inter-disciplinary Commission could best insure that the study would take social as well as medical issues into account.
Leaf said that he hopes that a preliminary series of aging seminars may lead to joint research in this relatively unexplored field.
Among popular theories of the aging process, Leaf cited the environmental approach and the concept of a genetic timing device. He outlined two relevant areas of medical research: a separation of the aging process from degenerative diseases such as cancer and a study of cellular growth in an attempt to determine the biological limits of life--if any.
In addition to its social and intellectual interest, aging is a personal concern. "Aging starts at birth," Leaf concluded