The Society for Acquired Resilience is currently in embryonic form. A group of like-minded colleagues* has, after discussion with scores of colleagues, begun the infrastructure for an independent learned society, committed to the concept of acquired resilience as an evidence-based feature of animal evolution and, in a medical context, to explore its potential for optimising human ageing.
Drawing on concepts already in the peer-reviewed literature – hormesis, the adaptive cell response, the unfolded protein response – as well as on more ‘popular’ understanding of the healthfulness of exercise, certain diets, weight control and and caloric restriction, which in turn have tested ancient traditions of ‘traditional’ medicine – the concept of acquired resilience unifies wide bodies of literature in a simple hypothesis: tissues can be made more resilient by the activation of pathways evolved in plants and animals in response to the stresses of everyday life – exercise (to chase prey or flee predators), hunger (a constant in the lives of wild animals), exposure to the sun, the toxins developed by the plants we eat specifically to discourage our predation on them.
Excess of all these stresses is toxic – exhaustion, starvation, sunburn and sunlight-induced cancers, poisoning. The pathways of stress-induced resilience have evolved to enhance our survival in a world full of stress; to increase the range of plants we can eat, to withstand radiation, to endure hunger until we can find food.
The Society's second conference Meeting
September 27th-29th 2022
Well, it turns out, when the evidence is read – it comes from hundreds of laboratories- that the stress-induced resilience response fades with ageing, in a manner comparable to the fading of acquired immunity. So the fading of the resilience response may be part of the cause of ageing, at least of its intrinsic nature. Further, the age-related fading of the response can be slowed/reversed by the stresses that induce resilience; so, people who run or swim or eat a Mediterranean diet as life-long habits preserve their resilience response better into old age; and correspondingly reducing/delaying morbidity, mortality. And in those who have grown old without such persistence can, through exercise and caloric restriction, improve their resilience (slowing sarcopenia, reducing morbidity, delaying mortality). This will not produce immortality; but it will increase ‘healthspan’.
Of course, millions of people are doing these things already. Our contribution is to identify the phenomenon, place it in its evolutionary context; it is to identify the scientific basis of swift healing, healthy ageing and longevity.
Whence the name?
A review published late in 2018 (conflict alert – the authors include the founding organisers of the AR Society) proposed this name (acquired resilience), to refer to the evolved system of pathways and responses that underlie the stress-induced resilience response.
The Society’s aims are simple and traditional – to encourage scholarship and the interchange of ideas in area of acquired resilience
Formation of a business entity (the Society of Acquired Resilience Pty Ltd), to underpin the Society
The establishment of a basic website, for communications
The convening of AR 2020, which will be the Society’s founding conference, in March 9-11 2020
The formation at AR 2020 of an elected Council, to manage the Society for the next few years (the number of years and other details to be decided at AR2020)
The implementation of a realistic business plan.