OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Tory Hagen Named to New Jamieson Chair in Healthspan Research

04/18/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Tory Hagen, a researcher at Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, will become the holder of the new Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson Chair in Healthspan Research at a special celebration on Tuesday, April 22.

Burgess Jamieson, a private investor and co-founder of the venture capital firms Institutional Venture Associates and Sigma Partners, and his wife Elizabeth, of Atherton, Calif., recently gave $2 million to OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute to establish the chair.

A celebration honoring Hagen and the Jamiesons will be held Tuesday beginning at 11 a.m.in LaSells Stewart Center’s C&E Room. The free public event will feature a short lecture by Hagen on "Aging Gracefully – from Lifespan to Healthspan."

Healthspan research focuses on helping people achieve long and healthy lives, maintaining vitality and health into old age. An OSU biochemistry and biophysics professor and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute, Hagen has conducted studies showing that two nutrients – lipoic acid and carnitine – can improve memory, mobility and overall function in aging animals and potentially in humans.

“This endowed chair is a tremendous honor,” said Hagen. “I truly appreciate having benefactors who understand the vision of what we’re trying to do at the Linus Pauling Institute and the great potential our research has for improving human health.”

Hagen said the chair would lay the foundation for an entire healthy aging program at the institute, helping to recruit new faculty and graduate students. While much gerontology research is under way across the country, the majority, especially at medical schools, is centered on treating the diseases of aging. The program at OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute will be one of the few that takes a preventive approach.

“We are building a very exciting program in healthy aging research at OSU, one that holds great promise in addressing some of our most pressing health care challenges,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “With the support of donors like Burgess and Elizabeth Jamieson, talented faculty like Tory Hagen will make discoveries that affect not just how long we live – but improve our quality of life as well.”

Hagen’s research into the cellular mechanisms underlying the aging process has gained international recognition and earned two major grants from the National Institutes of Health: a $1 million grant to study dietary prevention of mitochondrial decay in the heart, and a $6 million grant, which Hagen shares with institute colleagues Balz Frei and Joe Beckman, to investigate the ability of lipoic acid to lower the elderly’s vulnerability to toxins. Among his other projects, Hagen will also begin a pilot study with human volunteers on the effects of lipoic acid this summer.

Burgess Jamieson has followed the work of Linus Pauling Institute researchers for many years and is a strong proponent of nutritional supplements.

“My wife and I have been extensive users of vitamins and supplements for many years, and I feel it’s been a great benefit to my health.” said Jamieson, who is an avid hiker at age 77. “Our objective is to not just grow old. We hope to extend our quality of life as long as possible. Tory Hagen’s work with lipoic acid and carnitine is very valuable. He’s well-deserving of this award, and we are looking forward to seeing more good work from him.”

The Jamiesons’ gift follows a surge in new support for Oregon State University’s science programs including $62.5 million in public and private funding announced last fall for the construction of the new Linus Pauling Science Center. The new facility will house the Linus Pauling Institute and faculty from OSU’s Department of Chemistry. It will also provide classrooms and laboratories for students taking courses in chemistry and the life sciences.

Support for faculty is a major goal of The Campaign for OSU, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Guided by OSU's strategic plan, the campaign seeks $625 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen the Oregon economy, and conduct research that changes the world. Approximately $405 million has been committed to date, and more than 20 new endowed faculty positions have been established since the start of the campaign.