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Rechnitzer Lecture

Fourth Annual Peter A. Rechnitzer Lecture


John A. Faulkner, Ph.D.
The University of Michigan

Monday, April 13, 1998

4 p.m.
Room 270, Medical Science Building

The Centre for Activity and Ageing
Department of Physiology
Faculty of Health Sciences
Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
Lawson Research Institute
The Peter A. Rechnitzer Fund


John A. Faulkner, Ph.D.
The University of Michigan

Dr. Faulkner earned his B.A. from Queen's and both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. A faculty member at Western in the late 1950s, he joined the faculty at The University of Michigan in 1960. There he is affiliated with the Institute of Gerontology (currently its Director), he is Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and he is Director of the Nathan Shock Centre for Basic Biology in Ageing. He is active in a number of scientific organizations and has received many prestigious awards for his work including the Honour Award from the American College of Sports Medicine, the Glenn Edmonson Award from U of M, and the 1998 Honour Award from the American Physiological Society (Environmental and Exercise Section). Dr. Faulkner will give another presentation entitled "The Engineering of Viable Skeletal Muscles: From Whole Muscle Transplantation to Gene Therapy" on Tuesday, April 14, 1998 at 4:30 pm at the The Lawson Research Institute, Room H407, St. Joseph's Health Centre. Visitors are welcome.


ABSTRACT: Physical frailty impairs significantly the ability of the elderly to perform the activities of daily living. The underlying causes of frailty are atrophy, weakness, fatigue, and injury. Muscle atrophy may result from either physical inactivity or aging. Although physical inactivity and aging have a similar effect on muscle mass, the former is completely reversible and the latter is not. Between 30 - 80 years, human beings normally lose 30 - 40% of limb and trunk skeletal muscle and an even greater % of their strength and power. The muscle atrophy arises from both a loss in the number of fibers and atrophy of remaining fibers. The cause of the muscle weakness with aging is unresolved, but the power loss results from motor unit remodeling causing a substantial decrease in the fast-slow fiber ratio. The ability to sustain power, which is already decreased to 50% of the adult value by middle age, decreases even further in older animals. The muscles of older animals are more susceptible to contraction-induced injury and recover less well when injured. In animals of all ages, muscles may be conditioned to minimize fatigue and injury under most circumstances. The concept of maintaining young muscle fibers in older animals is valid. Top

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Don Paterson
Research Director
Candian Centre for Activity and Aging
Phone: 519.661.1606 x81606

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