Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Longitudinal Studies Section


Scientific Director


251 Bayview Boulevard
Suite 100
Baltimore, MD 21224


Research Topics

Aging is accompanied by a global susceptibility for a number of different diseases and functional decline that cannot be readily assessed by the currently available approaches. However, the mechanism that leads to such a susceptibility to disease and disability in the elderly is poorly understood. One possible way of gaining a better understanding of the relationship between aging, morbidity and disability is to examine such a relationship in the context of longitudinal studies. It is widely recognized that physical and cognitive function are strong predictors of mortality, independently of other traditional medical markers of poor health status. Recent data suggest that the high prevalence of comorbidity in the elderly cannot be explained by a simple stochastic process (since the incidence and prevalence of many acute and chronic diseases increases with age, older patients are more likely to be affected by multiple conditions) but rather, results from a global susceptibility to disease that specific individuals develop over the aging process. In other terms, while aging, some individuals become more "frail" than others and, as a result of this process, they are at higher risk of developing comorbidity and disability.


Dr. Luigi Ferrucci is a geriatrician and an epidemiologist who conducts research on the causal pathways leading to progressive physical and cognitive decline in older persons. In September 2002, he became the Chief of the Longitudinal Studies Section at NIA and the Director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging. Dr. Ferrucci received a Medical Degree and Board Certification in 1980, a Board Certification in Geriatrics in 1982 and Ph.D. in Biology and Pathophysiology of Aging in 1998 at the University of Florence, Italy. He spent a 2-year internship at the Intensive Care Unit of the Florence Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, and was for many years Associate Professor of Biology, Human Physiology and Statistics at the University of Florence. Between 1985 and 2002 he was Chief of Geriatric Rehabilitation at the Department of Geriatric Medicine and Director of the Laboratory of Clinical Epidemiology at the Italian National Institute of Aging. During the same period, he collaborated with the NIA Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry where he spent several periods as Visiting Scientist. Dr. Ferrucci has made major contributions in the design of many epidemiological studies conducted in the U.S. and in Europe, including the European Longitudinal Study on Aging, the "ICare Dicomano Study," the AKEA study of Centenarians in Sardinia and the Women's Health and Aging Study. He was also the Principal Investigator of the InCHIANTI study, a longitudinal study conducted in the Chianti Geographical area (Tuscany, Italy) looking at risk factors for mobility disability in older persons. Dr. Ferrucci is currently refining the design of the BLSA to focus more on normal aging and the development of age-associated frailty. Dr. Ferrucci is Scientific Director, NIA since May 2011.

Selected Publications

  1. Gonzalez-Freire M, Scalzo P, D'Agostino J, Moore ZA, Diaz-Ruiz A, Fabbri E, Zane A, Chen B, Becker KG, Lehrmann E, Zukley L, Chia CW, Tanaka T, Coen PM, Bernier M, de Cabo R, Ferrucci L. Skeletal muscle ex vivo mitochondrial respiration parallels decline in vivo oxidative capacity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and muscle strength: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Aging Cell. 2018;17(2).
  2. Gonzalez-Freire M, Semba RD, Ubaida-Mohien C, Fabbri E, Scalzo P, Højlund K, Dufresne C, Lyashkov A, Ferrucci L. The Human Skeletal Muscle Proteome Project: a reappraisal of the current literature. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2017;8(1):5-18.
  3. Fabbri E, An Y, Zoli M, Tanaka T, Simonsick EM, Kitner-Triolo MH, Studenski SA, Resnick SM, Ferrucci L. Association Between Accelerated Multimorbidity and Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Older Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging Participants without Dementia. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016;64(5):965-72.
  4. Gonzalez-Freire M, Moaddel R, Sun K, Fabbri E, Zhang P, Khadeer M, Salem N Jr, Ferrucci L, Semba RD. Targeted Metabolomics Shows Low Plasma Lysophosphatidylcholine 18:2 Predicts Greater Decline of Gait Speed in Older Adults: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018.
  5. Semba RD, Gonzalez-Freire M, Moaddel R, Sun K, Fabbri E, Zhang P, Carlson OD, Khadeer M, Chia CW, Salem N Jr, Ferrucci L. Altered Plasma Amino Acids and Lipids Associated with Abnormal Glucose Metabolism and Insulin Resistance in Older Adults. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 21, 2018