Thomas T. Perls, MD, MPH, FACP

Professor, Medicine

Thomas Perls
617.638.6670
72 E. Concord St Robinson (B)

Biography

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).

Other Positions

  • Active Staff Privileges, Medicine, Boston Medical Center

Education

  • University of Rochester, MD
  • Harvard School of Public Health, MPH
  • Pitzer College, BA

Publications

  • Published on 9/1/2019

    Gurinovich A, Bae H, Farrell JJ, Andersen SL, Monti S, Puca A, Atzmon G, Barzilai N, Perls TT, Sebastiani P. PopCluster: an algorithm to identify genetic variants with ethnicity-dependent effects. Bioinformatics. 2019 Sep 01; 35(17):3046-3054. PMID: 30624692.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/14/2019

    Deelen J, Evans DS, Arking DE, Tesi N, Nygaard M, Liu X, Wojczynski MK, Biggs ML, van der Spek A, Atzmon G, Ware EB, Sarnowski C, Smith AV, Seppälä I, Cordell HJ, Dose J, Amin N, Arnold AM, Ayers KL, Barzilai N, Becker EJ, Beekman M, Blanché H, Christensen K, Christiansen L, Collerton JC, Cubaynes S, Cummings SR, Davies K, Debrabant B, Deleuze JF, Duncan R, Faul JD, Franceschi C, Galan P, Gudnason V, Harris TB, Huisman M, Hurme MA, Jagger C, Jansen I, Jylhä M, Kähönen M, Karasik D, Kardia SLR, Kingston A, Kirkwood TBL, Launer LJ, Lehtimäki T, Lieb W, Lyytikäinen LP, Martin-Ruiz C, Min J, Nebel A, Newman AB, Nie C, Nohr EA, Orwoll ES, Perls TT, Province MA, Psaty BM, Raitakari OT, Reinders MJT, Robine JM, Rotter JI, Sebastiani P, Smith J, Sørensen TIA, Taylor KD, Uitterlinden AG, van der Flier W, van der Lee SJ, van Duijn CM, van Heemst D, Vaupel JW, Weir D, Ye K, Zeng Y, Zheng W, Holstege H, Kiel DP, Lunetta KL, Slagboom PE, Murabito JM. A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identifies multiple longevity genes. Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 14; 10(1):3669. PMID: 31413261.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/10/2019

    Bae H, Lunetta KL, Murabito JM, Andersen SL, Schupf N, Perls T, Sebastiani P. Genetic associations with age of menopause in familial longevity. Menopause. 2019 Jun 10. PMID: 31188284.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/31/2019

    Wuttke M, Li Y, Li M, Sieber KB, Feitosa MF, Gorski M, Tin A, Wang L, Chu AY, Hoppmann A, Kirsten H, Giri A, Chai JF, Sveinbjornsson G, Tayo BO, Nutile T, Fuchsberger C, Marten J, Cocca M, Ghasemi S, Xu Y, Horn K, Noce D, van der Most PJ, Sedaghat S, Yu Z, Akiyama M, Afaq S, Ahluwalia TS, Almgren P, Amin N, Ärnlöv J, Bakker SJL, Bansal N, Baptista D, Bergmann S, Biggs ML, Biino G, Boehnke M, Boerwinkle E, Boissel M, Bottinger EP, Boutin TS, Brenner H, Brumat M, Burkhardt R, Butterworth AS, Campana E, Campbell A, Campbell H, Canouil M, Carroll RJ, Catamo E, Chambers JC, Chee ML, Chee ML, Chen X, Cheng CY, Cheng Y, Christensen K, Cifkova R, Ciullo M, Concas MP, Cook JP, Coresh J, Corre T, Sala CF, Cusi D, Danesh J, Daw EW, de Borst MH, De Grandi A, de Mutsert R, de Vries APJ, Degenhardt F, Delgado G, Demirkan A, Di Angelantonio E, Dittrich K, Divers J, Dorajoo R, Eckardt KU, Ehret G, Elliott P, Endlich K, Evans MK, Felix JF, Foo VHX, Franco OH, Franke A, Freedman BI, Freitag-Wolf S, Friedlander Y, Froguel P, Gansevoort RT, Gao H, Gasparini P, Gaziano JM, Giedraitis V, Gieger C, Girotto G, Giulianini F, Gögele M, Gordon SD, Gudbjartsson DF, Gudnason V, Haller T, Hamet P, Harris TB, Hartman CA, Hayward C, Hellwege JN, Heng CK, Hicks AA, Hofer E, Huang W, Hutri-Kähönen N, Hwang SJ, Ikram MA, Indridason OS, Ingelsson E, Ising M, Jaddoe VWV, Jakobsdottir J, Jonas JB, Joshi PK, Josyula NS, Jung B, Kähönen M, Kamatani Y, Kammerer CM, Kanai M, Kastarinen M, Kerr SM, Khor CC, Kiess W, Kleber ME, Koenig W, Kooner JS, Körner A, Kovacs P, Kraja AT, Krajcoviechova A, Kramer H, Krämer BK, Kronenberg F, Kubo M, Kühnel B, Kuokkanen M, Kuusisto J, La Bianca M, Laakso M, Lange LA, Langefeld CD, Lee JJ, Lehne B, Lehtimäki T, Lieb W, Lim SC, Lind L, Lindgren CM, Liu J, Liu J, Loeffler M, Loos RJF, Lucae S, Lukas MA, Lyytikäinen LP, Mägi R, Magnusson PKE, Mahajan A, Martin NG, Martins J, März W, Mascalzoni D, Matsuda K, Meisinger C, Meitinger T, Melander O, Metspalu A, Mikaelsdottir EK, Milaneschi Y, Miliku K, Mishra PP, Mohlke KL, Mononen N, Montgomery GW, Mook-Kanamori DO, Mychaleckyj JC, Nadkarni GN, Nalls MA, Nauck M, Nikus K, Ning B, Nolte IM, Noordam R, O'Connell J, O'Donoghue ML, Olafsson I, Oldehinkel AJ, Orho-Melander M, Ouwehand WH, Padmanabhan S, Palmer ND, Palsson R, Penninx BWJH, Perls T, Perola M, Pirastu M, Pirastu N, Pistis G, Podgornaia AI, Polasek O, Ponte B, Porteous DJ, Poulain T, Pramstaller PP, Preuss MH, Prins BP, Province MA, Rabelink TJ, Raffield LM, Raitakari OT, Reilly DF, Rettig R, Rheinberger M, Rice KM, Ridker PM, Rivadeneira F, Rizzi F, Roberts DJ, Robino A, Rossing P, Rudan I, Rueedi R, Ruggiero D, Ryan KA, Saba Y, Sabanayagam C, Salomaa V, Salvi E, Saum KU, Schmidt H, Schmidt R, Schöttker B, Schulz CA, Schupf N, Shaffer CM, Shi Y, Smith AV, Smith BH, Soranzo N, Spracklen CN, Strauch K, Stringham HM, Stumvoll M, Svensson PO, Szymczak S, Tai ES, Tajuddin SM, Tan NYQ, Taylor KD, Teren A, Tham YC, Thiery J, Thio CHL, Thomsen H, Thorleifsson G, Toniolo D, Tönjes A, Tremblay J, Tzoulaki I, Uitterlinden AG, Vaccargiu S, van Dam RM, van der Harst P, van Duijn CM, Velez Edward DR, Verweij N, Vogelezang S, Völker U, Vollenweider P, Waeber G, Waldenberger M, Wallentin L, Wang YX, Wang C, Waterworth DM, Bin Wei W, White H, Whitfield JB, Wild SH, Wilson JF, Wojczynski MK, Wong C, Wong TY, Xu L, Yang Q, Yasuda M, Yerges-Armstrong LM, Zhang W, Zonderman AB, Rotter JI, Bochud M, Psaty BM, Vitart V, Wilson JG, Dehghan A, Parsa A, Chasman DI, Ho K, Morris AP, Devuyst O, Akilesh S, Pendergrass SA, Sim X, Böger CA, Okada Y, Edwards TL, Snieder H, Stefansson K, Hung AM, Heid IM, Scholz M, Teumer A, Köttgen A, Pattaro C. A catalog of genetic loci associated with kidney function from analyses of a million individuals. Nat Genet. 2019 06; 51(6):957-972. PMID: 31152163.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/10/2019

    Sung YJ, de Las Fuentes L, Winkler TW, Chasman DI, Bentley AR, Kraja AT, Ntalla I, Warren HR, Guo X, Schwander K, Manning AK, Brown MR, Aschard H, Feitosa MF, Franceschini N, Lu Y, Cheng CY, Sim X, Vojinovic D, Marten J, Musani SK, Kilpeläinen TO, Richard MA, Aslibekyan S, Bartz TM, Dorajoo R, Li C, Liu Y, Rankinen T, Smith AV, Tajuddin SM, Tayo BO, Zhao W, Zhou Y, Matoba N, Sofer T, Alver M, Amini M, Boissel M, Chai JF, Chen X, Divers J, Gandin I, Gao C, Giulianini F, Goel A, Harris SE, Hartwig FP, He M, Horimoto ARVR, Hsu FC, Jackson AU, Kammerer CM, Kasturiratne A, Komulainen P, Kühnel B, Leander K, Lee WJ, Lin KH, Luan J, Lyytikäinen LP, McKenzie CA, Nelson CP, Noordam R, Scott RA, Sheu WHH, Stancáková A, Takeuchi F, van der Most PJ, Varga TV, Waken RJ, Wang H, Wang Y, Ware EB, Weiss S, Wen W, Yanek LR, Zhang W, Zhao JH, Afaq S, Alfred T, Amin N, Arking DE, Aung T, Barr RG, Bielak LF, Boerwinkle E, Bottinger EP, Braund PS, Brody JA, Broeckel U, Cade B, Campbell A, Canouil M, Chakravarti A, Cocca M, Collins FS, Connell JM, de Mutsert R, de Silva HJ, Dörr M, Duan Q, Eaton CB, Ehret G, Evangelou E, Faul JD, Forouhi NG, Franco OH, Friedlander Y, Gao H, Gigante B, Gu CC, Gupta P, Hagenaars SP, Harris TB, He J, Heikkinen S, Heng CK, Hofman A, Howard BV, Hunt SC, Irvin MR, Jia Y, Katsuya T, Kaufman J, Kerrison ND, Khor CC, Koh WP, Koistinen HA, Kooperberg CB, Krieger JE, Kubo M, Kutalik Z, Kuusisto J, Lakka TA, Langefeld CD, Langenberg C, Launer LJ, Lee JH, Lehne B, Levy D, Lewis CE, Li Y, Lim SH, Liu CT, Liu J, Liu J, Liu Y, Loh M, Lohman KK, Louie T, Mägi R, Matsuda K, Meitinger T, Metspalu A, Milani L, Momozawa Y, Mosley TH, Nalls MA, Nasri U, O'Connell JR, Ogunniyi A, Palmas WR, Palmer ND, Pankow JS, Pedersen NL, Peters A, Peyser PA, Polasek O, Porteous D, Raitakari OT, Renström F, Rice TK, Ridker PM, Robino A, Robinson JG, Rose LM, Rudan I, Sabanayagam C, Salako BL, Sandow K, Schmidt CO, Schreiner PJ, Scott WR, Sever P, Sims M, Sitlani CM, Smith BH, Smith JA, Snieder H, Starr JM, Strauch K, Tang H, Taylor KD, Teo YY, Tham YC, Uitterlinden AG, Waldenberger M, Wang L, Wang YX, Wei WB, Wilson G, Wojczynski MK, Xiang YB, Yao J, Yuan JM, Zonderman AB, Becker DM, Boehnke M, Bowden DW, Chambers JC, Chen YI, Weir DR, de Faire U, Deary IJ, Esko T, Farrall M, Forrester T, Freedman BI, Froguel P, Gasparini P, Gieger C, Horta BL, Hung YJ, Jonas JB, Kato N, Kooner JS, Laakso M, Lehtimäki T, Liang KW, Magnusson PKE, Oldehinkel AJ, Pereira AC, Perls T, Rauramaa R, Redline S, Rettig R, Samani NJ, Scott J, Shu XO, van der Harst P, Wagenknecht LE, Wareham NJ, Watkins H, Wickremasinghe AR, Wu T, Kamatani Y, Laurie CC, Bouchard C, Cooper RS, Evans MK, Gudnason V, Hixson J, Kardia SLR, Kritchevsky SB, Psaty BM, van Dam RM, Arnett DK, Mook-Kanamori DO, Fornage M, Fox ER, Hayward C, van Duijn CM, Tai ES, Wong TY, Loos RJF, Reiner AP, Rotimi CN, Bierut LJ, Zhu X, Cupples LA, Province MA, Rotter JI, Franks PW, Rice K, Elliott P, Caulfield MJ, Gauderman WJ, Munroe PB, Rao DC, Morrison AC. A multi-ancestry genome-wide study incorporating gene-smoking interactions identifies multiple new loci for pulse pressure and mean arterial pressure. Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Apr 10. PMID: 31127295.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2019

    Andersen SL, Sweigart B, Sebastiani P, Drury J, Sidlowski S, Perls TT. Reduced Prevalence and Incidence of Cognitive Impairment Among Centenarian Offspring. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Jan 01; 74(1):108-113. PMID: 29931286.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/1/2019

    Sebastiani P, Gurinovich A, Nygaard M, Sasaki T, Sweigart B, Bae H, Andersen SL, Villa F, Atzmon G, Christensen K, Arai Y, Barzilai N, Puca A, Christiansen L, Hirose N, Perls TT. APOE Alleles and Extreme Human Longevity. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Jan 01; 74(1):44-51. PMID: 30060062.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/27/2018

    Kraja AT, Liu C, Fetterman JL, Graff M, Have CT, Gu C, Yanek LR, Feitosa MF, Arking DE, Chasman DI, Young K, Ligthart S, Hill WD, Weiss S, Luan J, Giulianini F, Li-Gao R, Hartwig FP, Lin SJ, Wang L, Richardson TG, Yao J, Fernandez EP, Ghanbari M, Wojczynski MK, Lee WJ, Argos M, Armasu SM, Barve RA, Ryan KA, An P, Baranski TJ, Bielinski SJ, Bowden DW, Broeckel U, Christensen K, Chu AY, Corley J, Cox SR, Uitterlinden AG, Rivadeneira F, Cropp CD, Daw EW, van Heemst D, de Las Fuentes L, Gao H, Tzoulaki I, Ahluwalia TS, de Mutsert R, Emery LS, Erzurumluoglu AM, Perry JA, Fu M, Forouhi NG, Gu Z, Hai Y, Harris SE, Hemani G, Hunt SC, Irvin MR, Jonsson AE, Justice AE, Kerrison ND, Larson NB, Lin KH, Love-Gregory LD, Mathias RA, Lee JH, Nauck M, Noordam R, Ong KK, Pankow J, Patki A, Pattie A, Petersmann A, Qi Q, Ribel-Madsen R, Rohde R, Sandow K, Schnurr TM, Sofer T, Starr JM, Taylor AM, Teumer A, Timpson NJ, de Haan HG, Wang Y, Weeke PE, Williams C, Wu H, Yang W, Zeng D, Witte DR, Weir BS, Wareham NJ, Vestergaard H, Turner ST, Torp-Pedersen C, Stergiakouli E, Sheu WH, Rosendaal FR, Ikram MA, Franco OH, Ridker PM, Perls TT, Pedersen O, Nohr EA, Newman AB, Linneberg A, Langenberg C, Kilpeläinen TO, Kardia SLR, Jørgensen ME, Jørgensen T, Sørensen TIA, Homuth G, Hansen T, Goodarzi MO, Deary IJ, Christensen C, Chen YI, Chakravarti A, Brandslund I, Bonnelykke K, Taylor KD, Wilson JG, Rodriguez S, Davies G, Horta BL, Thyagarajan B, Rao DC, Grarup N, Davila-Roman VG, Hudson G, Guo X, Arnett DK, Hayward C, Vaidya D, Mook-Kanamori DO, Tiwari HK, Levy D, Loos RJF, Dehghan A, Elliott P, Malik AN, Scott RA, Becker DM, de Andrade M, Province MA, Meigs JB, Rotter JI, North KE. Associations of Mitochondrial and Nuclear Mitochondrial Variants and Genes with Seven Metabolic Traits. Am J Hum Genet. 2019 Jan 03; 104(1):112-138. PMID: 30595373.

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  • Published on 10/8/2018

    Yashin AI, Arbeev KG, Wu D, Arbeeva LS, Bagley O, Stallard E, Kulminski AM, Akushevich I, Fang F, Wojczynski MK, Christensen K, Newman AB, Boudreau RM, Province MA, Thielke S, Perls TT, An P, Elo I, Ukraintseva SV. Genetics of Human Longevity From Incomplete Data: New Findings From the Long Life Family Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 10 08; 73(11):1472-1481. PMID: 30299504.

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  • Published on 10/8/2018

    Bae H, Gurinovich A, Malovini A, Atzmon G, Andersen SL, Villa F, Barzilai N, Puca A, Perls TT, Sebastiani P. Effects of FOXO3 Polymorphisms on Survival to Extreme Longevity in Four Centenarian Studies. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 10 08; 73(11):1439-1447. PMID: 28977569.

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