Scientist who leads studies of aging receives prestigious NIH award


Arlan G. Richardson, Ph.D., director of the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the Health Science Center, has been selected to receive one of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) highest honors, a MERIT Award that will bring 10 years of guaranteed, uninterrupted federal funding to Dr. Richardson’s laboratory.

Dr. Richardson is an internationally respected authority on oxidative stress and aging. One of the leading theories of how aging occurs is that oxidative damage to various cellular structures leads to aging. Dr. Richardson’s laboratory is using transgenic/knockout mouse models to study this theory, particularly the role of oxidative damage to proteins.

This damage to proteins has been implicated in a host of age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Richardson is using a unique genetic mouse model to study the long-term effects of increased oxidative damage to proteins. If his hypothesis is correct, these animals will age more rapidly and show signs of neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Richardson is a senior research career scientist with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System. At the Health Science Center, he is a professor of cellular and structural biology and occupies the Methodist Hospital Foundation Chair in Aging Studies and Research.

Dr. Richardson is an invited member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), an institute of the NIH. The Board of Scientific Counselors evaluates the quality of the NIA’s intramural scientists and programs and advises the NIA director on scientific policy issues.

“A MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health is a gratifying endorsement that we are on the right track, that the work we are doing to shed light on the biological mechanisms of aging is looked upon as relevant and important, and that individual excellence is being demonstrated in our research programs,” Dr. Richardson said.

Dr. Richardson received his doctorate in biochemistry from Oklahoma State University in 1968. He is a past president of the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association. He has received many of the most prestigious awards conferred in the field of aging research, including the Robert W. Kleemeier Award for outstanding research in the field of gerontology from the Gerontological Society of America.

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