Will we ever be able to escape the diseases of old age?
That's the aim of today's guest, Prof Dame Linda Partridge who studies the genetics of ageing. From fruit flies to nematode worms, she uses simple organisms to unmask the secret processes that cause our bodies to deteriorate as we get older.
But her route into science was far from normal - growing up in a Catholic convent boarding school, the girls were encouraged to be good housewives rather than diligent scientists. However, the lack of science facilities and teachers meant that the students had to run their own laboratory, ordering chemicals and tending to equipment.
It was the start of a long and successful career, which has culminated in Linda becoming the Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany and the Institute of Healthy Ageing at University College, London.
Her life's goal is to produce pharmacological treatments that will help people stay healthier in old age. But what are the social and economic impacts of our growing longevity?
Producer: Michelle Martin.