Aging, in Theory: A Personal Pursuit

Every human being has asked at least once, "Why do we have to age and die?" Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Tuchnina (now Gavrilova), decide to really pursue the answer. They first met at a conference in 1975 when they were both fourth-year chemistry students at Moscow State University. Then, seven days after their first date, a smitten Gavrilov proposed, promising he would discover how to stop aging if she would marry him. The couple went on a quest to find a general theory that could explain what

A. J. S. Rayl
May 12, 2002
Every human being has asked at least once, "Why do we have to age and die?" Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Tuchnina (now Gavrilova), decide to really pursue the answer. They first met at a conference in 1975 when they were both fourth-year chemistry students at Moscow State University. Then, seven days after their first date, a smitten Gavrilov proposed, promising he would discover how to stop aging if she would marry him.

The couple went on a quest to find a general theory that could explain what aging is and why and how it happens. After more than 20 years of "sustained intellectual effort"—first at Moscow State University in Russia and recently at the University of Chicago's Center of Aging—they produced a "fundamental reliability theory of aging and longevity."1 It is, they suggest, "a promising approach" for developing a comprehensive theory that integrates biological knowledge with systems repair...