The Fourth Summit: Geroscience for the Next Generation

Susan Howlett

Susan Howlett is Professor of Pharmacology Geriatric Medicine at Dalhousie in Halifax, where she has taught for more than 30 years.  Her laboratory is recognized for work on cardiac excitation-contraction coupling.  She has discovered profound differences in the way that male and female heart cells function, how this changes with age and how sex hormones regulate these processes. Her laboratory pioneered the measurement of frailty in naturally aging animals with a “frailty index” tool based on deficit accumulation.  Her work shows that maladaptive changes in aging heart structure/function are better graded by the degree of frailty than by age itself.  These links between cardiac aging and frailty are related to inflammation in a sex-specific fashion.  She has used results from studies in aging animals to develop a new laboratory-based tool (the FI-Lab) to measure frailty in people.  As a frequent contributor to prominent journals (H-index 51), editor, reviewer and editorialist, Susan has a wide view of research across the life course.  Her personal and collaborative experience allows insight into the needs of researchers across the career span. Her mentorship of now generations of young scientists, most of whom have pursued academic careers, speaks to her ability to inspire young researchers.