Valter Longo

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Valter D. Longo is an American biogerontologist and cell biologist known for his studies on the role of starvation and nutrient response genes on cellular protection aging and diseases and for proposing that longevity is regulated by similar genes and mechanisms in many eukaryotes. He is currently a professor at the USC Davis School of Gerontology with a joint appointment in the department of Biological Sciences as well as serving as the director of the USC Longevity Institute.


Originally from Genoa, Italy, Valter Longo attended the University of North Texas[1] majoring in Biochemistry.

In 1992 he joined the laboratory of "calorie restriction" pioneer Roy Walford at UCLA where he studied calorie restriction and aging of the immune system. He completed his PhD work in Biochemistry studying antioxidant enzymes and anti-aging genes under Joan Valentine at UCLA in 1997 and his postdoctoral training in the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s Disease under Caleb Finch at the University of Southern California. Since 1997 he has been a faculty member at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center.

In his 1997 doctoral thesis he described a new way to study aging in S. cerevisiae (chronological life span) and described in parallel with the work of others in C. elegans the first aging regulatory pathway which, in yeast, involved Ras, adenylate cyclase and protein kinase A, protective transcription factors and antioxidant enzymes.[2][3] In 2001, he led the USC team that discovered that inhibition of the growth stimulating Mammalian target of rapamycin/S6 kinase pathway by deletion of the SCH9 gene caused a 3-fold life span extension in yeast.[4] Analogous genes including adenylate cyclase, PKA, Tor and S6K were recently shown to also regulate aging in mice. In 2008 the Longo laboratory showed that inactivation of the Tor-S6K and Ras-PKA pathways is responsible for a major portion of the effects of calorie restriction on life span and together with calorie restriction causes a 10 fold life span extension.[5]

The Longo laboratory also showed that the inhibition of IGF-1 and of the aging promoting pathways by starvation can be exploited to protect normal cells and mice but not cancer cells from chemotherapy (Differential Stress Resistance, DSR).[6][7][8] Preliminary studies in humans suggest that the DSR effect may be applicable to cancer patients.[9]

In 2011, Longo in collaboration with the group of endocrinologist Jaime Guevara-Aguirre in Ecuador, demonstrated that the aging promoting effect of the IGF-1, Tor-S6K, Ras and PKA pathways on aging is potentially conserved in most eukaryotes by reporting that a human population with deficiencies in IGF-1, Ras, PKA, and Tor displays a major reduction in genes that promote aging as well as a very low incidence of cancer and diabetes.[10][11][12][13]

Longo, a leading force in the formation of USC's Biology of Aging program as well as the director of the USC Longevity Institute,[14] also launched the USC Davis School of Gerontology's first study-abroad program, a summer class in the nutrition and genetics of aging in Italy.[15]

In 2011, he was profiled on Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman for his longevity-related research.[16]


Selected Publications[edit]

Media Appearances[edit]

In 2011, he was profiled on Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman for his longevity-related research.[21]

Also in 2011 he was featured in the French documentary on fasting The Science of Fasting[22] by Thierry De Lestrade and Sylvie Gilman.

In August 2012 he was featured in the BBC2 Horizon documentary Eat, Fast & Live Longer[23] by Michael J. Mosley.


  1. ^ "Faculty Profile: Valter Longo". USC Davis School of Gerontology. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Longo VD, UCLA Thesis, 1997
  3. ^ Longo, V.D et al.. "Superoxide Dismutase Activity is Essential for Stationary Phase Survival in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Mitochondrial Production of Toxic Oxygen Species in vivo". Journal of Biological Chemistry 271: 12275–12280. 
  4. ^ Fabrizio, P; Pozza, F.; Pletcher, S.; Gendron, C.M.; Longo, VD. (2001). "Regulation of Longevity and Stress Resistance by Sch9 in Yeast". Science 292: 288–290. 
  5. ^ Mosher, Dave. "Tinkering extends life of organism by 10-fold". MSNBC. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Raffaghello, L. , Lee, C. , Safdie, F.M., Wei, M., Madia, F. , Gonidakis, S. , Bianchi, G. , and Longo V.D. Starvation-dependent Differential Stress Resistance Protects Normal but not Cancer Cells Against High Dose Oxidants/Chemotherapy. PNAS, 2008 Mar 3.
  7. ^ O'Callaghan, Tiffany (11 February 2010). "A pill that protects against chemo side effects?". TIME. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Keim, Brandon (17 February 2010). "Fasting Might Make Chemotherapy More Effective". Wired. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Safdie FM, Dorff T, Quinn D, Fontana L, Wei M, Lee C, Cohen P, Longo VD. Fasting and Cancer Treatment in Humans. A case series report. Aging. 2009, 1(12): 988-1007
  10. ^ Growth hormone receptor deficiency is associated with a major reduction in pro-aging signaling, cancer and diabetes in humans. Guevara-Aguirre J, Balasubramanian P, Guevara-Aguirre M, Wei M, Madia F, Cheng CW, Hwang D, Martin-Montalvo A, Saavedra J, Ingles S, de Cabo R, Cohen P, Longo VD. Science Transl Med. 2011 Feb 16;3(70).
  11. ^ Wade, Nicholas. "Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Park, Alice (17 February 2011). "Dwarfism May Hold Key to Fighting Cancer and Diabetes, and Living a Long Life". TIME. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Hamilton, Jon. "Gene Mutation Key To Ecuador Group's Health". NPR. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "USC Longevity Institute". USC. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Riggs, Jonathan. "Gerontology and Genoa’s Lifestyle". USC News. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "USC in the News". USC Media and Public Relations. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  17. ^ "Nathan W. Shock Memorial Lecture Award Winners". National Institute on Aging. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  18. ^ Lee, C; VD Longo (25 April 2011). "Fasting vs dietary restriction in cellular protection and cancer treatment: from model organisms to patients". Oncogene 30 (30): 3305–16. doi:10.1038/onc.2011.91. PMID 21516129. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  19. ^ Lee, Changhan; Lizzia Raffaghello, Sebastian Brandhorst, Fernando M. Safdie, Giovanna Bianchi, Alejandro Martin-Montalvo, Vito Pistoia, Min Wei, Saewon Hwang, Annalisa Merlino, Laura Emionite, Rafael de Cabo and Valter D. Longo (8 February 2012). "Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy". Science Translational Medicine 4 (124): 124ra27. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3003293. PMID 22323820. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  20. ^ Safdie, Fernando M.; Tanya Dorff, David Quinn, Luigi Fontana, Min Wei, Changhan Lee, Pinchas Cohen, and Valter D. Longo (December 2009). "Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: A case series report". AGING 1 (12). Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "USC in the News". USC Media and Public Relations. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "The Science of Fasting". Via decouvertes. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "The power of intermittent fasting". BBC. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 

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