Excerpts from The Scientist, vol.16, No.10, page 20 (May 13, 2002)

Published opinion of Dr. Marc Tatar on "Reliability Theory of Aging and Longevity" published by Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, 2001, 213(4): 527-545.

"The idea that the redundancy systems that keep living organisms alive are also the systems that ensure we age is consistent with natural selection, because it keeps us alive and functioning at a high-enough level long enough to reproduce within the adaptive space of our body plan in ecology—and that's what natural selection is after," says Marc Tatar, evolutionary biologist, Brown University. "The Gavrilovs' theory addresses with some pretty clever models what is really the kind of central problem with biodemography—which is how to relate individual biology to these patterns we see in the population."

"If this theory does turn out to be true—and it seems to be moving toward testability—then it might help us perhaps start making sense of this," says Tatar. "A potentially very exciting implication of the work is that it might [direct researchers] to study development." While people have proposed the critical importance of the developmental experience before, this theory goes the extra mile, saying, basically, that the trajectory of an individual's aging depends on developmental experiences. "That," says Tatar, "is a different magnitude of relationship between the adult and juvenile experience."

More information about Dr. Marc Tatar, Ph. D., Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, is available at:

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