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Virpi Lummaa holds an Academy of Finland Professorship at the University of Turku. She received her PhD in Biology in Turku, thereafter holding positions in Cambridge, Sheffield in the UK and Berlin, Germany, before returning to Finland in 2016 with her two young sons. She is interested in ageing, lifespan and natural selection in contemporary human societies, and her ERC Starting Grant used historical church records in an innovative way to look at evolutionary, ecological and demographic factors influencing birth and death rates during the past 300 years.  At present, Prof. Lummaa also focuses on senescence patterns of the Asian elephant, a long-lived mammal that offers unique opportunities to reveal the mechanisms of ageing in a way highly relevant to humans. Her first findings of the Consolidator Grant 2014 highlight the significant role that elephant grandmothers play to ensure the survival of the calves, providing vital baby care comparable to childcare in human communities across the world. Such important contribution of the older generation to the success of the younger ones has meant that natural selection has favoured exceptional longevity in both species. Prof. Lummaa now studies how life-long disease patterns, stress and investment in reproduction affect how we age at the cellular level.