Reminiscent of a scene from “The Social Network,” the whiteboard in researcher and professor Morgan Levine’s Yale Medical School office is covered in a series of letters and numbers. She clicks the red cap back onto the dry erase marker and steps back to admire her work.
In front of her, the equation stretches across multiple lines, taking up much of the surface. This algorithm represents a new way of thinking about age.
“In my lab, we work on a lot of different types of aging measures,” Levine said. “One of the most recent ones is based on blood measures you get at your normal doctor’s appointment. We basically take those and combine them using different algorithms to get what we call someone’s phenotypic age or biological age.”
Essentially, everyone has two ages: a chronological age, how old the calendar says you are, and a phenotypic or biological age, basically the age at which your body functions as it compares to average fitness or health levels.
“People of the same chronological age aren’t all at the same risk for developing cardiovascular disease or cancer or even dying,” Levine said. “What [the biological age] does is actually give us a better idea of where someone stands for their age.”
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