AGING AND THE GENOME
The capabilities of all organisms are circumscribed by a living code written in DNA. This code is unique to each organism and defines the capacities of the cell, providing the blueprints which enable complex organisms to flourish. Evolutionary forces converged on DNA due to its remarkable balance of stability and flexibility; it can persist for eons yet is mutable enough to allow for the breathtaking diversity that epitomizes life on Earth. Despite these extraordinary properties, DNA is not without its faults; its mutability, so critical for diverse mechanisms of survival, is a double edged sword that can hinder as easily as it can help. Changes to DNA can occur through a wide variety of mechanisms, which we broadly call mutagens, and the spectra of mutations arising from these mutagenic forces can have a devastating impact on the cell or, more rarely, on the organism as a whole.