Biological anthropology of ageing and longevity

Why do we age and die? Aging and senescence are characterized by progressive deterioration of physiological functions and demographically characterized by an increase in mortality over time and a decline in fertility. Although ageing is a feature of all living organisms, humans are characterized by a prolonged post-reproductive period and survival and the rate of ageing is not universal, but it varies in human groups and in different human populations according to several factors.

The goal of this research is to study pattern of population variability in the aging processes and in longevity and to investigate the underlying anthropological and evolutionary factors associated to a prolonged post-reproductive lifespan in humans.

Within this framework the current projects are:

  • The study of the genetics of healthy aging and longevity in different human groups, focusing on gene-environment interactions. The genetics of longevity is investigated in relation to geography, cultural, social and historical factors
  • The study of the biological age of individuals by epigenetic biomarkers (such as DNA methylation) in relation to genetic ancestry and in different ethnic groups
  • Study of the evolutionary, biological, molecular, and bio-demographic factors that influence the sexual dimorphism in human ageing
  • Study of methods of forensic anthropology for age estimation from different dental tissues and remains through epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation)