Anti-aging science: The emergence, maintenance, and Enhancement
Through archival analysis this article traces the emergence, maintenance, and enhancement of biogerontology as a scientific discipline in the United States. At first, biogerontologists' attempts to control human aging were regarded as a questionable pursuit due to: perceptions that their efforts were associated with the long history of charlatanic, anti-aging medical practices; the idea that anti-aging is a “forbidden science” ethically and scientifically; and the perception that the field was scientifically bereft of rigor and scientific innovation. The hard-fought establishment of the National Institute on Aging, scientific advancements in genetics and biotechnology, and consistent “boundary work” by scientists, have allowed biogerontology to flourish and gain substantial legitimacy with other scientists and funding agencies, and in the public imagination. In particular, research on genetics and aging has enhanced the stature and promise of the discipline by setting it on a research trajectory in which explanations of the aging process, rather than mere descriptions, have become a central focus. Moreover, if biogerontologists' efforts to control the processes of human aging are successful, this trajectory has profound implications for how we conceive of aging, and for the future of many of our social institutions.