TitleFrom the lab to the front line: How individual biogerontologists navigate their contested field
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSettersten, RA, Flatt, MA, Ponsaran, RS
JournalJournal of aging studies
Date Published12/2008

This paper infuses a new perspective into scholarship on anti-aging science: the experiences of individual scientists as they entered and navigate this controversial field. We draw on in-depth interviews with 43 prominent biogerontologists to accomplish three objectives. First, we highlight key factors that draw scientists into biogerontology-especially the unique and complex puzzles posed by aging. Second, we examine how biogerontologists define themselves and their research in relation to "anti-aging" science-particularly how scientists distance themselves from the tarnished history of the field and employ powerful language to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate scholarship, and science from industry. Finally, we explore how individual scientists manage any social, religious, and ethical objections to conducting "anti-aging" research-and the repertoire of responses they use to simultaneously dismantle objections and reinforce the legitimacy of their science. The analyses reveal how much is ultimately at stake for these individual scientists on the front line.