RESTRICTION SOCIETY ANNOUNCES PASSING OF
DR. ROY L. WALFORD
THE GERONTOLOGY RESEARCHER ON WHOSE WORK THE SOCIETY WAS FOUNDED.
Dr. Roy L. Walford, the
gerontology researcher whose work at the University of California at Los Angeles
(UCLA) led him to advocate the human practice of calorie restriction as an
anti-aging intervention, a practice he himself adopted as a way of life, died
on Tuesday, April 27 2004. His death was caused by complications of the rare
disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig disease.
In announcing Dr. Walford's death, Meredith Averill, chairman of the board
of The Calorie Restriction (CR) Society spoke of the great debt of gratitude
the Society owes to Dr. Walford: His groundbreaking research is the sole reason
the Society exists. It is primarily an electronic bulletin board system for
exchanging e-mail messages among those interested in the science of calorie
restriction and its potential benefits. Brian M. Delaney, president of the
CR Society added, Dr. Walford's death is a tremendous loss to all in the Society,
to the scientific community, and to all humanity. He was not just a renowned
researcher, but was a veritable Renaissance man, an artist, a thespian and
producer, a journalist, and, to the very end, a poet, even after he lost the
ability to grasp a pen in his own hand.
It was Dr. Walford's research that led to a rebirth of CR science. Prior to his teaching and research career at UCLA, many regarded the results of early CR studies in the 1930s as mere laboratory curiosities. This all changed when Dr. Walford began his career. Because of his work, CR became the primary model for investigating the aging process. Walford, along with students such as Dr. Richard Weindruch of the University of Wisconsin and numerous other colleagues around the world, made tremendous strides during three decades of research into unraveling the mysteries of biological aging and identifying the first steps towards intervening in the process.
Dr. Walford's greatest contribution may well be that he was bold enough not only to research CR, but to take his findings out of the confines of the laboratory and put them into the hands of all who yearn for more life and youth, by advocating the human practice of calorie restriction as an anti-aging intervention and by practicing it himself.
It is a tribute to the
strength of his personal integrity that Dr. Walford would go public with the
implications of his research despite the threat to his reputation as a respected
biogerontologist in an academic environment afraid of the whiff of anti-aging
quackery. Standard practice at the time was to accept the inevitability of
the degenerative processes under study and to be unwilling to recognize let
alone to publicize the opportunity for extended youth and longevity that his
Ensuing decades have seen the tide turn. The scientific consensus has shifted toward accepting Dr. Walford's thesis that calorie restriction will in all probability slow aging in humans. More and more scientists are now actively pursuing new ways to exploit the anti-aging mechanisms of CR to develop treatments that would give the benefits of CR to all without the need for a transforming change of lifestyle.
Dr. Walford helped to make his life work accessible to everyone by collaborating with his daughter Lisa to write four inspiring "how to" books that have became standard reference works for those interested in health diets. Stressing the practical, something rare for researchers at elite research institutions, Dr. Walford designed nutritional analysis software to safeguard personal health. His nutrition software, known as Dr. Walford's Interactive Dietary Planner (DWIDP), allows tracking to facilitate intake of recommended amounts of dozens of nutrients and to result in improved nutrition. It actually permits the healthiest diet known to science today to become the healthiest diet practiced by human beings today.
In December 1994, Dr. Walford and his daughter Lisa met with current CR Society President, Brian M. Delaney, and four other founders to establish the organization dedicated to focusing attention on the "CR diet," a diet that is both a research tool for gerontologists and a way of life for a growing number of people. The Society is today an international organization with nearly 2000 members. Registered as a U.S. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Society enthusiastically carries on the public service work that Dr. Walford spearheaded during his exceptional life. With the inspiration of Roy Walford and the extraordinary research that he conducted, the extraordinary life that he lived, and the extraordinary writings he left to posterity, the CR Society will continue to make the benefits of longevity research avail to everyone. The home of The CR Society on the Internet is
ALS, Dr. Walford's cause of death, is a degenerative neurological disease. Its exact causes are unknown, but many researchers think a strong genetic component is at work. In his case, the disease may have been brought on or exacerbated by his exposure to nitrous oxide during a research stay in Biosphere 2. As Mr. Delaney concluded, It is a tragedy that this disease prevented Dr. Walford from fully enjoying the promise of extended health presented by calorie restriction. Dr. Walford believed that his practice of CR may have in fact slowed the progression of his illness. Certainly, he exceeded the life expectancy of a person diagnosed with ALS.