CEM Seminar- Steven Austad

Center for Evolution and Medicine, Spring 2016—A Novel Hypothesis for the Evolution of the Dietary Restriction Effect

Distinguished Professor and Department Chair of Biology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
A new interpretation of the life-extending dietary restriction effect 
Dietary restriction, the reduction of food intake from the amount that animals would prefer, extends health and life in a diversity of species. Traditionally this “dietary restriction effect” has been interpreted to have evolved as a way to enhance survival and preserve reproduction during periods of naturally-occurring food shortage. Austad will point out various shortcomings in this evolutionary interpretation and present a new hypothesis, strongly supported by evidence, on the evolutionary advantage of the seemingly paradoxical effect.


Steven N. Austad, PhD is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. A multi-awarding winning researcher, he studies virtually every aspect of aging from demography to molecular processes to the societal impact of an aging population. His research also involves developing lifestyle and pharmacological approaches to improving and preserving human health. In addition to his research interests, Dr. Austad is passionate about communicating science to the general public, and in that capacity has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of National Public Radio and written popular science articles for numerous publications including Natural History magazine, Scientific American, and International Wildlife. His trade book, Why We Age (1997), has been translated into 8 languages. Since March 2012, he has written biweekly newspaper columns on various aspects of science initially for the San Antonio Express-News and currently for AL.com, a Alabama state-wide on-line newspaper.