Professor Richard Strohman (Emeritus)

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Mailing Address: 230A Donner Lab, Berkeley, CA 94720-3206

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After a long and successful career in studying the biophysical aspects of muscle development and function, Dr. Strohman is now actively engaged in investigating the dynamic and energetic basis of human health and aging. His interests have been and continue to be focused on the historiography of 20th century biology. In his research, Dr. Strohman describes the origins of molecular biology, its relationship to genetics, and the development of genetic determinism. With respect to human health and aging, he emphasizes the importance, not only of the genotype or genetic constitution of a cell, but also of the phenotype, the observable organismal properties that have developed under the combined influences of the genotype and the effects of environmental factors. Healthy human populations depend on healthy social and behavioral environments. Dr. Strohman identifies key terms, such as homeostasis, homeodynamics, and maintenance of dynamic stability, in the face of great genetic and environmental variations (robustness, kinetics of senescence, and trajectory of frailty). With an increased longevity, the so-called "graying society," chronic disabilities emerge as a byproduct of aging. These disabilities have their bases in failures in internal energetics -- that is, failure to respond to environmental or behavioral modalities. Energy appears to be the key to maintenance and health. Furthermore, the core metabolic pathways found in all humans are aspects of cellular metabolic control systems governed by universal laws of thermodynamics and kinetics. These systems, and their quantitative biochemical analysis, are now acknowledged as crucial to our understanding of premature physical and cognitive senescence, and to the generation of energy-based therapies able to prevent or delay the onset of the many aging diseases. Finally, these systems are now also recognized as generators of synoptic signals in the form of concentrations of key metabolites (NAD/NADH for example) with feedback to the genome and, thereby, to the control of patterns of gene expression. The control of disease is vested in these systems, and the new paradigm now calls for a new biological worldview in which genetics (semiotics) and dynamics (systems) exist in a complementarity relationship. These two distinctly different models are required to explain the emergence of a phenotype in living cells and in multicellular organisms.