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Steve Austad, PhD

Distinguished Professor and Chair of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

Dr. Austad is Distinguished Professor and Chair of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as well as Senior Scientific Director of the American Federation for Aging Research. He has previously held faculty positions at Harvard University, the University of Idaho, and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. His research explores the evolution of life histories with a particular focus on the comparative biology of aging. Dr. Austad’s research ranges from comparative demography to molecular mechanisms of aging and he has a long-time interest in variation in both cognitive and physical aging rates among primates and other animals. The long-term goal of his research is to develop treatments to slow the aging process, thus keeping people fit and healthy longer. Dr. Austad’s laboratory works with different animal species, especially those which are more successful at aging than humans, such as clams and hydra, in order to discover such treatments. 

Dr. Austad earned an undergraduate degree in English literature from UCLA. After doing so, he left academia for a number of years during which among other things, he drove a taxicab in New York City, worked as a newspaper reporter, and trained large cats for television and movies. His interest in science awakened by his time animal training, he returned to academics to study animal behavior more formally, receiving his PhD in biology from Purdue University. After postdoctoral research at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Austad accepted a position as assistant professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolution Biology at Harvard University in 1986. Leaving Harvard as an associate professor in 1993, he moved to University of Idaho where he became full professor. From 2004 to 2013, he was a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Austad served as interim director of the Barshop Institute before moving to his current position in 2014.