Louise Levy attends regular Tai-chi classes, retired three years ago from her secretarial job and says she would still be driving today if her car had not “conked out before I did.” None of which would be particularly unusual, except Mrs. Levy is 101 years old.
“My mind is still clear and I don’t have a memory problem,” says the resident of Rye, N.Y., about the latest chapter in a life that began when movies were silent and the Model-T Ford cutting edge. “It’s been absolutely marvelous.”
Mrs. Levy’s long and generally healthy life is the focus of a fascinating scientific study, itself at the forefront of a little-noticed but radical approach to medical research. Turning upside down the traditional quest to understand and cure specific diseases, some researchers are examining instead healthy and long-lived humans and animals for their biological secrets.
By reverse engineering the source of that vigour, scientists hope to develop drugs or supplements that could give less genetically fortunate people more protection against the ravages of aging and chronic illness.