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What do we study?
We study aging and diseases of the aging brain. Since aging is the primary risk factor for most neurodegenerative diseases, our research is aimed at one critical question: Can we use “anti-aging” strategies to prevent diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s disease?

Why do we study aging and diseases of the aging brain?
The world’s population is aging rapidly and the number of elderly people worldwide will exceed 2 billion by the year 2050. We now face major challenges of aging – particularly of the aging brain. Cognitive decline from aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s has emerged as one of the largest health threats to our aging societies. It is imperative that we identify and understand basic mechanisms of aging and longevity – and then determine whether these mechanisms can decrease vulnerability to neurodegenerative conditions of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

How do we study aging and disease?
We investigate aging and brain disease from the cellular and molecular to the network and cognitive levels using cutting-edge methods. We implement mouse models of aging and disease to identify, develop, and assess novel approaches to prevent or cure disease. In parallel, we investigate the human relevance of our discoveries in collaboration with clinical programs that include studies of human brain imaging, neurocognitive testing, and post-mortem brain tissue analysis.

What have we discovered?
Recently, we discovered two “anti-aging” strategies that may potentially lead to novel treatment strategies to promote healthy aging:

  1. Sex chromosomes impact longevity and disease susceptibility.
    Females live longer than males across varied economic, cultural, and environmental conditions and even with neurodegenerative disease. Though social and behavioral factors may influence female longevity, it is a fundamental biological phenomenon that spans much of the animal kingdom. Remarkably, molecular mechanisms that underlie female longevity have long remained unknown. How do females live longer? Do underlying mechanisms of female longevity confer any resistance to diseases of the aging brain?  Can we augment sex chromosome-based mechanisms to prevent diseases of aging in both men and women?
  2. An anti-aging factor prevents cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s disease.
    Over the past decade, we have gained an understanding that the aging process is plastic – that modifying specific molecules can dramatically increase the lifespan of organisms ranging from worms to mice. However, it remains largely unknown whether anti-aging approaches can prevent aging-related disease such as AD. Our preliminary findings suggest that they can. Stay tuned!

Key Questions we are investigating:

  1. How do sex chromosomes impact longevity and disease susceptibility?
  2. How do “aging-suppressors” impact the brain?
  3. Can anti-aging strategies prevent cognitive decline in aging and diseases of aging?