“Dear Professor Kenyon, I am eleven years old, and, ever since I was six, have developed an acute interest in the study of the extension of human life. I think the research you are doing is amazing. I was wondering if I could meet you to ask some questions about a career in biology?”

SAN FRANCISCO — So began an email from Laura Deming of Auckland, New Zealand, to Cynthia Kenyon, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Kenyon had revolutionized aging research with her discovery that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of a tiny roundworm called C. elegans. Her finding triggered a hunt for therapies to extend the human lifespan that today is one of the hottest areas in medical research.

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