Skip to main content

Past Event

The Biology of Ageing and Cell Senescence

Major advances in healthcare, sanitation and standards of living have contributed to a doubling of human lifespan over the past 100 years. However, age is the biggest risk factor for a variety of apparently different diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and dementia: more than half of people over 65 will develop two or more serious long term health conditions, and experience 10-25 years of poor and deteriorating health in later life. Significant health inequalities throughout the life-course become magnified in older age - women experience worse health than men as they age, and people living with socioeconomic deprivation develop age-related diseases 10 to 15 years before those in more affluent areas. While the socioeconomic and drivers of these inequalities are becoming clear, we still do not understand at a basic biomedical level what causes such major differences in ageing health.

Our research aims to understand the underlying biological mechanisms that drive age-related diseases at cause (rather than dealing with the symptoms of diseases once they have developed) and to target these mechanisms to improve health. In particular we are interested in a process termed ‘cell senescence’ whereby normal cells in the body change both with age and after exposure to environmental insults such as pollution, poor diet and psychosocial stress. Senescent cells that accumulate with ageing can be harmful within individual tissues and organs, and can also adversely impact health of the whole body, including reducing the ability to cope with infections such as flu and COVID-19.

In my presentation I will briefly outline what we know about factors that drive cell senescence, present some experimental findings that help to understand the mechanisms of senescence and show how we can target these mechanisms with drugs to reduce harmful features of cells as they age – research that has now led to a small clinical trial of one of these drugs in older adults. I will also touch briefly on barriers to implementation of new therapies emerging from the ageing biology research field and approaches we are taking to overcome them, including nurturing collaboration between academic disciplines (social, natural, physical and medical sciences) across the UK and internationally, to better address the national and global challenges of poor health in ageing.

About the Speaker:

Prof Lynne Cox, Department of Biochemistry

Professor Lynne Cox is a biogerontologist at the University of Oxford where she leads the Lab of Ageing and Cell Senescence.

Lynne and her team study the biological mechanisms of ageing, as well as developing biomarkers and conducting function-first drug testing, aiming to alleviate age-related diseases at cause in a disease-agnostic manner. Lynne is a collaborator on the UK’s first human trial of low dose rapamycin as a geroprotector against muscle and immune ageing. She has received the US Glenn Foundation Award for Research on the biological mechanisms of ageing (2014) and the Lord Cohen of Birkenhead medal in recognition of outstanding contributions to ageing research from the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA) (2023).

Having served for 3 years on the Strategic Advisory Board of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity, she now co-directs the UK ageing research networks ( and is Program Director of Wellcome Leap’s global $60m Dynamic Resilience program.

Please note that this is a Hybrid event. We welcome colleagues to 66 Banbury Road or on line via Zoom:

This event is part of a seminar series:

Hilary 2024 Seminar Series: Health, Ageing and Longevity: exploring perspectives from across the University of Oxford

Convenor:  Prof Sarah Harper CBE Please note that this is a Hybrid event. We welcome colleagues to 66 Banbury Road or on line via Zoom:    

Event Details

22 February 2024 14:00 - 15:00


Online & 66 Banbury Rd