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OMRF scientist brings conference of age-related disease experts to OKC

OMRF scientist brings conference of age-related disease experts to OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 13, 2023 — Serving as president of the American Aging Association comes with one major perk, says Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D.

“You get to choose where the next year’s annual meeting will be held,” Van Remmen said.

And that is how downtown Oklahoma City played host June 8-11 to 400 scientists and physicians focused on extending the number of healthy years in a person’s life. Van Remmen, who studies muscle loss in aging and holds OMRF’s G.T. Blankenship Chair in Aging Research, ended her one-year presidential term during closing ceremonies.

Van Remmen didn’t hesitate when her predecessor asked her preference on where to hold the 51st annual meeting.

“This gives us a chance to show off our aging program here at OMRF and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center,” she said.

In addition to her position at OMRF, Van Remmen also is co-director of the Oklahoma Nathan Shock Center on Aging, one of only eight in the U.S. It is a collaboration between OMRF, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center to study how aging impacts disease and how changes that occur in aging predispose people to disease.

During the meeting, Van Remmen presented the association’s first Exceptional Mentor in Aging Award to OUHSC scientist Arlan Richardson, Ph.D. Richardson was Van Remmen’s mentor during her postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

“This is particularly special to me,” Van Remmen said while introducing Richardson. “He has been an impactful mentor not only for me but for the entire field of aging research.”

Richardson’s career began in 1971, three years before the federal government created the National Institute on Aging. “We’ve come from being a sleepy little field to now generating some of the top research in the world,” he said.

The conference sessions included one designed by junior scientists who comprise the Trainee Chapter. OMRF scientists Sarah Ocañas, Ph.D., and Aga Borowik, Ph.D., the chapter’s chair and vice chair, led that session.
Cara Green, Ph.D., a scientist from the University of Wisconsin, said the conference’s “down-to-earth vibe” reflected Van Remmen’s approachable demeanor.

“Under her tenure, our association has made great strides in representing and recognizing women in aging research,” Green said. “She’s been a wonderful leader.”

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