An Interview with Dr. Steven Austad, Interim Director of the Barshop Institute
Q. Can we expect a change of direction by the Barshop Institute now that Dr. Richardson has stepped down as Director?
Dr. Austad. Absolutely not. The main thing we need to focus on is sustaining the momentum built up over the last decade when, under Dr. Richardsons leadership, we emerged as a world leader in aging research. There may be a slight shift in emphasis though.
Q. Shift in emphasis? What do you mean?
Dr. Austad. Well, I think most San Antonians would be surprised to learn that they have a world-class aging research institute in their midst and also to find out that the mission of that institute is promoting healthy aging. Wed like to change that. Most of the publicity we receive is for our ground-breaking work in discovering new ways to enhance healthy aging using animals as research tools. Ultimately that research will translate into new ways to improve human health -- but it wont happen overnight. In the meantime, we want to increase our impact in our own community by focusing on known ways of promoting health. After all, weve learned over the past decades that most of ones success in aging healthily is due to the right lifestyle choices. In the future, I think we want to focus more closely on promoting healthy lifestyles right here and right now in San Antonio.
Q. How do you plan to go about that?
Dr. Austad. We want to use our scientific reputation and expertise to help local government as well as private organizations and businesses develop innovative approaches to encourage healthy lifestyles. I think that with a concerted effort healthy aging could become a watchword for San Antonio. Wed like to help make that happen by partnering with local groups in events and activities of all sorts that promote healthy aging. Well be actively reaching out to these groups. Im expecting that, as they begin to appreciate and share our goal, they will be reaching out to us as well.