Thomas T. Perls, MD, MPH, FACP
Professor
Boston University School of Medicine
Dept of Medicine
Geriatrics Section

MD, University of Rochester
MPH, Harvard School of Public Health



Expertise in epidemiology, genetics of aging and exceptional longevity.

Dr. Perls is among the international leaders in the field of human exceptional longevity. He is founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study, the largest study of centenarians and their families in the world. He is also a principal investigator of the NIA-funded Long Life Family Study. Dr. Perls is also a vocal critic of the "anti-aging" industry.

Dr. Perls is readily available for media interviews and inquiries for presentations. Please call him at 617-638-6688 or via email at thperls@bu.edu.

He has been responsible for numerous novel and pivotal findings in the field:

• Intact cognitive function amongst centenarians may be a function of demographic selection in which younger elderly with poor function die off leaving behind a select group of survivors with lower relative risk for common causes of cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease.

• Twenty percent of female centenarians had children after the age of 40 compared with 5% of women from their birth cohort. The results suggest that women who had children after the age of 40 had a 4 times greater risk of living to 100 or older (Nature).

• Delayed age of menopause and therefore the ability to have more children may be an important genetic selective pressure to evolve genetic variants that slow aging and decrease risk for age related diseases.

• Relative to octogenarians and nonagenarians, Alzheimer’s becomes less common amongst centenarians while rarer causes of neuropathology become more common, suggesting that centenarians have a relative resistance to Alzheimer’s, which also correlates with the decreased frequency of the apolipoprotein E-4 allele amongst Caucasian centenarians.

• The first to report a series of families that demonstrate remarkable clustering for exceptional longevity (J Amer Geriatrics Society).

• Siblings of centenarians have markedly increased risks for survival to 100 relative to their birth cohort (Lancet and PNAS).

• The children of centenarians have approximately 60% reduced rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension and 80% reduced overall mortality in their early seventies compared to their average birth cohort.

• A substantial proportion of centenarians live with age-related diseases usually associated with significant mortality, for more than 20 years (40%, called survivors), another group have such diseases after the age of 80 (45%, called delayers) and then there are about 15% of centenarians who have none of these diseases at the age of 100 (called escapers). Despite this, more than 90% of centenarians are functionally independent in their early nineties.

• At even older ages however, semi-super-centenarians (ages 105-109 years) and even more so, supercentenarians (age 110+), usually delay such age related diseases towards the ends of their lives. The supercentenarians particularly do this, experiencing such diseases on average in the last 5% of their extremely long lives (J Gerontology, 2012). These findings support for the first time Jim Fries’ “compression of morbidity” hypothesis that he proposed in his 1980 New England Journal of Medicine article. The observed homogeneity of this age group in terms of the delay or escape of these diseases is consistent with their being the extreme tail of the population and that they are more likely to have genetic factors in common that confer such an extreme survival advantage.

• Dr. Perls, working with a wide range of disciplines including statisticians, geneticists and computer scientists, has led the production of a landmark article in which a genetic model consisting of 281 genetic markers predicts with 85% accuracy whom in their sample of controls and centenarians is age 105+ years (published this January in PLoS ONE). The accuracy of the model is lower, about 60% for nonagenarians and centenarians at age 100, which supports the hypothesis that the genetic component of survival to older and older age beyond 100 gets progressively stringer. The authors made some additionally important findings: the centenarians have just as many disease-associated genetic variants as people dying at younger ages. Presumably, centenarians are able to survive to much older ages in part because of the presence of longevity associated variants that counter the effects of such disease variants. Particularly for the oldest subjects in the study, most of these 281 markers presumably point to such longevity associated variants, including genes already well known in the biology of aging community such as the Werner’s gene, Lamin A (Hutchison Guildford Syndrome) and super oxide dismutase. It’s very interesting that there are variants for genes known to cause premature aging that may have the opposite effect and contribute to exceptional longevity.

• In part in order to search for functional variants associated with the SNPs noted in the above model, Dr. Perls also led an effort to whole genome sequence, for the first time, not just one centenarian, but two supercentenarians, a man and woman, both over the age of 114 years (Frontiers in Genetics, January 2012).

Active Staff Privileges
Boston Medical Center
Medicine



2017 Gerontological Society of America: Fellow
2016 Gerontological Society of America: Joseph T. Freeman Award
2013 International Gerontology Association World Congress: Ewald Busse Research in Gerontology
2010 Glenn Medical Research Foundation: Glenn Award for Resaerch in Biological Mechanisms of Aging
1993 American College of Physicians: Fellow


New England Centenarian Study
07/01/2016 - 06/30/2020 (PI)
The William M. Wood Foundation

Candidate protective factors for age-associated diseases (target discovery) or factors indicative of healthy aging
09/15/2016 - 04/26/2017 (Co-PI)
PI: Paola Sebastiani, PhD
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

The New England Centenarian Study
10/01/2014 - 08/31/2016 (PI)
The William M. Wood Foundation


The Long Life Family Study: Boston Field Center
06/01/2014 - 05/31/2019 (PI)
NIH-NIA
5U01 AG023755-11

Centenarian Subjects for the Archon Genomics X Prize Whole Genome
12/08/2011 - 08/31/2016 (PI)
X Prize Foundation

Consortium to Study the Genetics of Longevity
09/30/2011 - 07/31/2016 (PI)
California Pacific Med Ctr Res Inst NIH-NIA

The Long Life Family Study
09/30/2010 - 05/31/2014 (PI)
NIH-NIA
5U01 AG023755-08

The Genetics of Human Exceptional Longevity
07/01/2010 - 06/30/2012 (PI)
Glenn Foundation for Medical Research

Characterizing Human Exceptional Longevity
03/01/2006 - 01/31/2012 (PI)
NIH-NIA
5K24 AG025727-05

Characterizing Human Exceptional Longevity
09/15/2009 - 08/31/2011 (PI)
NIH-NIA
3K24 AG025727-04S1

Characterizing Human Exceptional Longevity
09/30/2010 - 01/31/2011 (PI)
NIH-NIA
3K24 AG025727-05S1

Exceptional Survival and Longevity in New England
09/15/2009 - 08/31/2010 (PI)
NIH-NIA
3 U01 AG023755-05S2

Exceptional Survival and Longevity in New England
06/01/2008 - 08/31/2010 (PI)
NIH-NIA
5U01 AG023755-05 supplement

Showing 10 of 17 results. Show All Results


Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2016 Long Life Family Study: Boston Field Center 5U01AG023755-11 22
2014 Long Life Family Study: Boston Field Center 2U01AG023755-09 22
2014 Long Life Family Study: Boston Field Center 3U01AG023755-09S1 22
2013 The Long Life Family Study 3U01AG023755-08S1 22
2012 The Long Life Family Study 5U01AG023755-08 22
2011 The Long Life Family Study 5U01AG023755-07 22
2010 Characterizing Human Exceptional Longevity 5K24AG025727-05 16
2010 Characterizing Human Exceptional Longevity 3K24AG025727-05S1 16
2010 The Long Life Family Study 2U01AG023755-06 22
2009 Characterizing Human Exceptional Longevity 3K24AG025727-04S1 16
Showing 10 of 29 results. Show All Results
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

  1. Perls TT. Male Centenarians: How and Why Are They Different from Their Female Counterparts? J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Jun 06. PMID: 28586117.
  2. Fagan E, Sun F, Bae H, Elo I, Andersen SL, Lee J, Christensen K, Thyagarajan B, Sebastiani P, Perls T, Honig LS, Schupf N. Telomere length is longer in women with late maternal age. Menopause. 2017 May; 24(5):497-501.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27922939; DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000795;.
  3. Sebastiani P, Gurinovich A, Bae H, Andersen S, Malovini A, Atzmon G, Villa F, Kraja AT, Ben-Avraham D, Barzilai N, Puca A, Perls TT. Four Genome-Wide Association Studies Identify New Extreme Longevity Variants. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Mar 15.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28329165; DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glx027;.
  4. Sebastiani P, Bae H, Gurinovich A, Soerensen M, Puca A, Perls TT. Limitations and risks of meta-analyses of longevity studies. Mech Ageing Dev. 2017 Jan 28.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28143747; DOI: 10.1016/j.mad.2017.01.008;.
  5. Sebastiani P, Thyagarajan B, Sun F, Schupf N, Newman AB, Montano M, Perls TT. Biomarker signatures of aging. Aging Cell. 2017 Apr; 16(2):329-338.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28058805; DOI: 10.1111/acel.12557;.
  6. Sebastiani P, Thyagarajan B, Sun F, Honig LS, Schupf N, Cosentino S, Feitosa MF, Wojczynski M, Newman AB, Montano M, Perls TT. Age and Sex Distributions of Age-Related Biomarker Values in Healthy Older Adults from the Long Life Family Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Nov; 64(11):e189-e194.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27783390; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14522;.
  7. Pedersen JK, Elo IT, Schupf N, Perls TT, Stallard E, Yashin AI, Christensen K. The Survival of Spouses Marrying Into Longevity-Enriched Families. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Jan; 72(1):109-114. PMID: 27540092.
  8. Sebastiani P, Perls TT. Detection of Significant Groups in Hierarchical Clustering by Resampling. Front Genet. 2016; 7:144.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27551289; DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00144;.
  9. Perls TT. Testosterone Treatment in Older Men. N Engl J Med. 2016 Jul 7; 375(1):88. PMID: 27406355; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1603665#SA1;.
  10. Ismail K, Nussbaum L, Sebastiani P, Andersen S, Perls T, Barzilai N, Milman S. Compression of Morbidity Is Observed Across Cohorts with Exceptional Longevity. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Aug; 64(8):1583-91.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27377170; PMCID: PMC4988893; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14222;.
Showing 10 of 124 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 124 publications over 26 distinct years, with a maximum of 11 publications in 2015

YearPublications
19901
19931
19941
19952
19963
19973
19982
19993
20002
20015
200210
20037
20049
20055
20063
20072
20086
20096
20103
20114
20128
20138
20145
201511
20169
20175
In addition to these self-described keywords below, a list of MeSH based concepts is available here.

aging
centenarian
exceptional longevity

Available to Mentor as: (Review Mentor Role Definitions):
  • Advisor
  • Career Mentor
  • Co-Mentor or Peer Mentor
  • Research / Scholarly Mentor
Contact for Mentoring:
  • Email (see 'Contact Info')
  • Phone (see 'Contact Info')


72 E. Concord St Robinson (B)
Boston MA 02118
Google Map


Perls's Networks
Click the "See All" links for more information and interactive visualizations
Concepts
_
Co-Authors
_
Similar People
_
Same Department