USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology – 2018 in Review
The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology was founded in 1975, and has become a pioneering and distinguished institution in the field of healthy aging for diverse communities. It is currently led by Dean Pinchas Cohen. Dr. Cohen has a long-standing career investigating mechanisms of aging. As he continues examining age-related diseases and potential therapies, he leads the campus into several projects looking at a more personalized approach to aging.
Each Year Yields Progress
Since 1975, the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology has been making strides in the areas of: health and wellness and factors that affect aging, advocacy for geriatric care and policies surrounding the aging populations, and scientific discovery in age-related diseases and increased life expectancy. In the most recent years, the school has also established significant partnerships with the City of Los Angeles, UCLA, and the Milken Institute of Aging to provide the most accurate and emerging aging education and information on how to best care for the aging body.
This past year of 2018, the school continued with eminent advances and announcements that included large grants to allow for investigation of environmental impacts on aging, as well as the role of fasting in disease protection. USC Davis continues to uphold its role as a leading institution, as it became the first in California to join the Age-Friendly University Global Network which works with other universities to meet the needs and challenges facing the aging population. To continue this legacy of institutional innovation and the future of its students, the school also received significant benefactor contributions with the establishment of the Ney Center for Health Span Science, and the creation of the Renken Family Scholarship Fund.
Strides in Science
The National Institute of Aging awarded two large grants to provide insight into aging from environment factors to internal mechanisms. One $11 million dollar is allowing researchers (from the USC Leonard Davis School, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, as well as collaborators from the University of California, San Diego, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of Washington) to evaluate the environmental neurotoxins that impact Alzheimer’s.  The National Institute of Aging has also awarded a $10 Million dollar grant to Dr. Valter Longo, the Director of the USC Longevity Institute, and his team to investigate the cellular effects of fasting and fasting-mimicking diets, as well as the ability to offer protection from disease. Dr. Longo will join Dean Pinchas Cohen of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, as well as James Mitchell of the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health. 
“Our mission is to unlock secrets of healthy longevity in order to delay or even prevent debilitating diseases of aging. The tremendous growth in our funding and programs illustrates that our work is more important and impactful than ever.” br>
Dean Pinchas Cohen of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
Humble Beginnings and Grand Contributions
In early May of 2018, Mei-Lee Ney contributed to both the longevity of the school and its research with her significant donation of $20 million dollars. This was the largest donation in the history of the school, and has led to the creation of the Ney Center for Healthspan Science.  The center will focus on the biological demographic and psychological aspects of aging in an effort to contribute to healthy, optimal aging. 
At the announcement ceremony, Mei-Lee expressed gratitude for the remarkable researchers and the familial environment of the USC Davis Leonard School of Gerontology which have contributed to the leadership of the schools. Mei-Lee Ney, who sits on the Board of Councilors for both the USC Davis Leonard School of Gerontology and the USC Pacific Asia Museum, has risen as a leader herself throughout her career. 
Born in Shanghai, China, Mei-Lee Ney was reared with a family of accomplished leaders in academia and business. She credits her hard work ethic to her mother. Seeing her mother reach success working at the International Monetary Fund and supporting a large family financially, Mei-Lee has always executed hard work and accomplishment in all she pursues. In one interview, she discussed how her upbringing gave her the determination to work five-jobs in college, confidence to excel in a male-dominated industry, and the focus needed to reach success in any of her pursuits.
Success grew exponentially when she met her husband Richard Ney. Together they built a flourishing financial business, and produced best-selling books with insight on investing and the stock market. Her commitment to serving her fellow man is still evident today as she still works because she cares about meeting the needs of her clients. Mei Lee has shared, “Being remembered is not important to me, but I do care about the impact I make while I am alive.” 
Time and Longevity
One of the notable researchers that Mei-Lee Ney mentions as contributing to the momentous leadership of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology is Dr. Valter Longo, Director of the USC Longevity Institute. Just like Mei-Lee, Dr. Longo has made noteworthy accomplishments to the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. In the past years, Dr. Longo has produced remarkable research addressing fasting and aging, diet and protective factors against disease, and calorie-restriction in relation to genetics and chemotherapeutics. The year of 2018 brought new triumphs for Dr. Longo with the National Institute of Aging awarding him a $10 million dollar grant that will allow for a multi-faceted study that involves further investigation of fasting-mimicking diets and their effect on life span, stress resistance and its role in longevity, and cellular protection against certain age-related diseases. 
Dr. Valter’s Longo transformative research and commitment to advancing optimal aging is what earned him the name of one of TIME’s Most 50 Influential People in Health Care.  Specifically, it is his research on the role that fasting-mimicking diets can have in improved health and prolonging age-related diseases. In May of 2018, the USC Stevens Center again awarded Dr. Valter Longo mentioning that the research gained patents related to calorie-restriction and disease treatment.  These are exciting times as his research will continue to provide understanding of the molecular mechanisms related to cellular protection and rejuvenation. While his research related to his most recent grant will span a few years, one does not have to wait to see the results. Longo labs recently partnered with L-Nutra, a top Nutri-technology company to create the first Fasting-Mimicking Diet that allows one’s body to experience the benefits of fasting, while going food consumption goes undetected by the body. On Dr. Longo’s own website, you will also learn about his diet recommendations and what to consume for longevity, youthfulness, and great health. 
Comment Vieillir dans un Corps qui Reste Jeune: Valter Longo – Maître du Régime de Longévité [2018-12-26. Nouvel Obs]
- $11 million National Institute on Aging grant supports research on air pollution and Alzheimer’s [2018-07-24. Orli Belman. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology]
- New $10 million National Institute on Aging grant supports research on fasting, cell regeneration and disease protection [2018-04-12. Beth Newcomb. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology]
- Mei-Lee Ney’s $20M Donation announces the Ney Center for Healthspan Science at USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology [2018-05-16. Lisa Luther. MMRF]
- USC Receives $20M Gift to Create Center for Healthy Aging [2018-05-08. Dana Bartholomew. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology]
- Investing in Health [2017-10-18. Eric Lindberg, Orli Belman. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology]
- TIME names Valter Longo one of the 50 Most Influential People in Health Care of 2018 [2018-10-18. Orli Belman. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology]
- USC Leonard Davis School Innovators Honored by USC Stevens Center [2017-05-08. USC Longevity Institute / USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology]
- L-Nutra: Nutrition for Longevity [Official]
Special Thanks: David Eshaghpour, MSW, Senior Associate Dean for Advancement, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.