Bernal Neighbor’s Research Links Smarter Brain to Longer Life


This story slipped between the cracks a few weeks ago, but fortunately it’s as timeless as life itself…

In early May, a team of UCSF researchers published published an article that identified a gene which enables both high cognitive functioning and unusual longevity. In other words, there’s a gene that that makes you smarter and live longer — and vice-versa. And science now knows this because the research was organized by none other Neighbor Dena from Banks Street!

Off-hill, she’s known as Dr. Dena Dubal MD,, Ph.D., and she leads the Dubal Lab on Aging and the Brain at UCSF. Here’s what the Chronicle had to say about her recent conclusions:

A gene variant that scientists already knew to be associated with longer life also seems to make people smarter, and may help offset the effects of normal cognitive decline in old age, according to a team of San Francisco researchers.

The findings, published [on May 8] in the journal Cell Reports, are encouraging news for the roughly 1 in 5 people who have the genetic trait, which is a variant of the klotho gene.

Beyond that, scientists hope the findings will help them develop tools for retaining, or even boosting, intelligence in people who have suffered cognitive losses, either from disease or through the normal course of aging.

“What we’ve discovered is a cognitive enhancer,” said Dr. Dena Dubal, an assistant professor of neurology at UCSF and lead author of the study, which was done with researchers from the Gladstone Institutes. “This may represent a new way to treat problems of cognition in the brain.”

You can read lots more about Neighbor Dena’s research, or, in this glamorous video, you can watch as she explains it herself:

9 thoughts on “Bernal Neighbor’s Research Links Smarter Brain to Longer Life

  1. Neighbor Dena rocks! Also, at her recent birthday party, I met Neighbor Geoff, who’s involved with cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research as well. Hooray for Bernal Heights!

  2. This post had no parking or drones or dogs. I give it a 2 out of 10. Would not read again.

  3. This theory is woven from whole klotho.

    They’re going to inject us with something that ups the intelligence and lifespan of WORMS? Clearly the inner balance of power will be upset, and…

    The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout…

    • Great to have brilliant neighbors like Dena 🙂 Excellent research.
      Nice to know that there will be lots of old people around in the future.

  4. I have loved ones with dementia and cannot applaud this research enough. Brava, Dr. Dubal!

    This is surely bringing coals to Newcastle if you’re already aware of happenings in the cognitive deficiency world, ALZ research, etc., but I saw a screening of Alive Inside last week that changed my outlook on a lot of things. Superb and worth seeing when it comes out if you have parents or like Sundance-winning documentaries. 🙂

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