Aging Lab

The Aging Lab is dedicated to basic disciplinary and interdisciplinary research to better understand the processes and conditions of aging by taking a lifespan and life-course approach.

Modern notions of development and aging claim that human development is the result of the interaction between three different sources: biology (maturation/senescence), culture (learning), and the individual person (decision/action). This leaves much room for variation within and between individuals; this potential for variation in development is labeled plasticity (e.g., Staudinger, Marsiske & Baltes, 1995). More specifically, plasticity is defined as the divergence of an individual’s development from the average developmental trajectory, for better or for worse. Plasticity is dependent on available internal or external resources.

Research in the Aging Lab focuses on the positive side of plasticity aiming to explain how it is possible that performance and functional outcomes hold up under stress (resilience) as well as why certain individuals or the same individual under certain conditions even excel in levels of functioning (growth). Both in-house faculty and affiliated faculty along with scholars from across schools at Columbia and academic and research institutions throughout New York City, the U.S., and globally address key issues facing aging individuals and societies of longer lives.

Through these multidisciplinary collaborations, the Aging Lab seeks to generate systematic knowledge about, and new models for explaining, the interactions between levels of aging processes, to optimize aging in terms of the prevention or minimization of losses and the promotion of gains, and finally, to explore the potential and limitations of the personalization of optimized aging. The Aging Lab will annually announce pilot grants revolving around these issues. It will make contributions to academic education from the Bachelor through the Master to the PhD level. Regular Aging Lab Seminars will bring together select aging scholars to discuss specific topics at the forefront of the science of aging.

The Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center conducts work across several research areas and is in the process of developing new foci. The Center sponsors Faculty Research Fellowships to further understanding of the positive modifiability of aging. 

Columbia University offers a number of avenues for students to pursue an education on aging at the undergraduate and graduate level. The Columbia Aging Center is collaborating with departments and schools across the University to develop additional curriculum that delves into the many different aspects of aging. 

Faculty associated with the Center have published numerous research articles in United States and around the world on aging.

The Columbia Aging Center hosts and partakes in a number of multidisciplinary seminar series aimed at featuring current theory on aging research, science, policy, and practice. To request notification and join our mailing list, please email: