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Dr James Goodwin PhD

Recently, I received the sad news of the death of a dear friend and colleague who through his example, leadership and support had helped to change the course of my career.  Dr Ken Collins, a notable researcher and physician of old age medicine was instrumental in evoking my interest in ageing, at a crucial time in my life.  Our meeting was as fortuitous as it was timely, a truly serendipitous moment.  Through it, he began my life-long dedication to ageing science but more so, he implanted the priceless notion that we must go beyond the simple necessity of high quality research – vital though that is – and seek to generate impact, to change society in its approach, in its thinking and in its behaviour, so that genuine benefits accrue to older people.


Some years ago, after a very congenial dinner, a colleague of mine berated scientists for the many authors’ names which appear on their publications.  ‘Surely’, he said, ‘like those of us in the arts, brilliant minds should be able to publish independently - with just a single author’.

In the mythical land of Bimini, the indigenous populations of the Caribbean sought the fountain of youth, an idea which has intrigued and captivated peoples around the world and throughout history. Beginning with Herodontus, carried in the hopes and dreams of the conquistadors and persisting into 19th Century literature, the fountain of youth has been a metaphor for increased longevity and vitality.

In 1993, two friends and colleagues of mine alighted from an internal flight in the heart of Siberia. The light was failing and the temperature plummeted as they wound their way from the landing strip into an endless forest.  They were lost.  

At the start of the winter, it might seem strange to write about swallows and summers, especially when we have just had the news that 21,700 older people died of cold related illness last year.  That wasn’t 21,700 people. It was ten times that number because over the last 10 years, an average of over 26,000 have died each winter. 

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