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Vibrant Living Retreat 2018

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March 16-18, 2018
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Space is limited! Call 213.740.6493 to secure your reservation.

Come hear the experts assembled by the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology discuss the newest developments in science, technology, nutrition, disease prevention and longevity to help us live longer, more fulfilled and healthier lives.

Retreat Rates
$2,995 double accommodation
$2,495 single accommodation

Special Thanks to the retreat planning committee for building a personalized retreat
to benefit the participants who attend.
Bonnie Cook, Paul Irving, Merle Mullin, Mei-Lee Ney,  Sharon Tedesco, Shari Thorell


Saturday Afternoon Longevity Activities

In conjunction with the Ojai Valley Inn and others, we have orchestrated afternoon activities on Saturday to complement the healthy-aging knowledge we will gain at the retreat. Come relax, enjoy and savor a different side of healthy-aging through yoga, meditation, a walk with the Dean and a faculty led session: Leah Buturain Schneider’s: Practicing Presence, Giving Thanks, and Redeeming Time

Keynote Speakers

Gayle Garner Roski

Artist, Traveler, Storyteller, and Philanthropist

The Healing Journey

Gayle Garner Roski, artist and “happy painter”, shares with us her journeys, self-discoveries, self-awareness, and self-acceptance. Gayle believes that by sharing our stories, we see the parallel in each other’s lives. Before becoming an artist, Gayle lived a life of love and laughter with her family. However, on her 50th birthday she realized something was always missing– that missing piece was art. Gayle’s watercolor inspirations continue to come from her travels around the world, which allows her to view and paint life’s new experiences from differing perspectives. Her most recent show, The Healing Journey 2017, is featured at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. To learn more visit

Sherry Lansing

Former President of 20th Century Fox and Chairman of Paramount Pictures and Philanthropist

Taking the Lead: A Focused Q&A

During nearly 30 years in the motion picture business, Sherry Lansing oversaw the production, marketing, and distribution of more than 200 films, including Academy Award winners Forrest Gump, Braveheart, and Titanic.  The first woman to head a major film studio when she was appointed President of 20th Century Fox in 1980, Lansing later served as Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures from 1992 – 2005. Now, devoted to Philanthropy, Lansing raises awareness and funds for cancer research, public education, and Encore Careers.  Her fascinating story can be found in the new biography, Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker. Sherry will engage in fireside chat with Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and distinguished scholar in residence at USC Leonard Davis.

Saturday Topic – Update on the Science of Healthspan and Lifespan

  • Mark R. Collins Faculty Keynote Speaker: President of The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research
    How to Think About Aging
    It’s time to redefine the word, aging, and abandon any thought or reference to “anti-aging.”  After 31 years in the field of aging research, Mark will illustrate how aging research has been badly positioned in the press — often confusing the “anti-aging marketplace” with evidence-based science and medicine. There’s plenty of reason for optimism in legitimate research.
  • Eileen Crimmins, PhD – University Professor; AARP Professor of Gerontology
    Life Span and Healthspan:  What will happen in The Future
    The recent century of change in human lifespan leads to predictions of slowing gains in life expectancy.  On the other hand, we have yet to make major progress in expanding human health span.  This may be the century of expansion for healthspan.  What needs to change to increasingly add healthy years to life?
  • Sean Curran, PhD – Assistant Dean of Research; Assistant Professor in Biogerontology
    Lifespan Extension Interventions – From Model Organisms to Humans
  • Caleb Finch, PhD University Professor; ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Professor of the Neurobiology of Aging
    Air Pollution and Dementia
    Urban air pollution in the US has steadily improved with elimination of lead additives to fuels, improved engine efficiency, and myriad controls on commercial emissions. Despite this remarkable progress, we are still exposed to local extremes of toxic gases and particles. In collaboration with USC epidemiologist J-C Chen, we have shown that air pollution particles increase dementing changes in a US-wide sample and in a mouse model exposed to local pollution. Similar 2-fold risks were also reported for a Canadian population. Moreover, we showed that the main Alzheimer-risk gene, ApoE4, increased pollution vulnerability for brain damage. Do other Alzheimer genes also show environmental interactions? Additionally, air pollution promotes obesity, which is also linked to dementia. Because there is no evident safe lower level for pollution exposure, we should continue civic and individual efforts to reduce fossil fuel use. These major questions are discussed in my new book: Global Air Pollution in Aging and Disease (Academic Press, Feb 2018).
  • Valter Longo, PhD Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences
    Nutrition, Fasting Mimicking Diets, Regeneration, and Longevity

    Professor Longo will discuss how daily diets affect longevity and health span and how periodic FMDs can trigger the activation of programs with similarities to those activated during embryonic development to regenerate and rejuvenate multiple tissues, systems, and organs.

Saturday Faculty Activity

  • Leah Buturain Schneider, PhD – Lecturer of Gerontology
    Practicing Presence, Giving Thanks, and Redeeming Time
    During this elective gathering, we give ourselves the gift of nourishing the intelligence and awareness that eludes measurement. Our session of soul food will deepen your hunger for more nutrient density.  In the two weeks preceding the retreat, those registered (this session fills up quickly) will receive prompts and quotations for writing what engenders gratitude.  By giving thanks in writing, we prime the pump, thereby disposing our hearts to the beauty of the moment.   Sharing in an intentional setting strengthens our experience of comprising a caring communal cluster. 

Sunday Topic – Adding Life to Our Years

  • Laura Carstensen, PhD  Faculty Keynote Speaker: Director, Stanford Center on Longevity; Professor of Psychology at Stanford University
    Not Happy? Just Wait.
    There are many myths about growing older. Among the most pernicious is the myth that older people are lonely, sad, and fearful, when in fact they are in better mental health than any other age group. It matters because it undermines planning.  This talk will address emotional changes that typically occur with age in an effort to encourage people to envision long and healthy lives.
  • Alison Balbag, PhD, DMA – Instructional Assistant Professor of Gerontology
    This is Your (Aging) Brain on Music
    Playing a musical instrument is a distinctly unique activity: Not only is it a universal art form, but increasing evidence supports that music making benefits cognitive development and health at young ages. But do these brain benefits also extend throughout adulthood? As a musician and gerontologist, Dr. Alison Balbag is curious about how music impacts the brain across the lifespan. She will discuss current research and share how she uses music in her own health practice.
  • Richard A. Easterlin, PhD – University Professor and Professor of Economics; Department of Economics; Dana & David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences; University of Southern California
    Lifecycle Happiness of Women and Men
  • Mara Mather, PhD  – Professor of Gerontology and Psychology
    My Favorite Life Hacks: Tricks and Devices That Have Improved My Life and The Science Behind Them.
    Life hacks are tricks or novel methods that help one manage life and become more productive. As a cognitive neuroscientist, Professor Mather is always curious about how to make the body and brain operate better and she’s found a few life hacks that have made a significant difference in her life, improving her memory, posture, vision, work focus and emotional well-being. She will share these and explain the science behind them.

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