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Cell Biology Branch

The Cell Biology Branch focuses on the basic molecular mechanisms believed to underlie age-related dysfunction and deficit accumulation. Research supported by this branch includes genetic manipulations that affect the length and/or quality of life. A major theme for the Cell Biology Branch is elucidating interactions among the hallmarks of aging.

Branch Chief:

Max Guo, Ph.D.

Program Officers:

Yih-Woei Fridell, Ph.D.
Yi-Ping Fu, Ph.D.
Raquel Sitcheran, Ph.D.
Leonid Tsap, Ph.D.

Genetics Program

This program encompasses genetics and genomics research related to aging and longevity. Topics may include:

  • Longevity assurance genes
  • Genes controlling the rate of aging
  • Genetics of healthy aging
  • Genome stability and aging
  • Genomics, gene expression, and functional genomics
  • Telomere biology
  • Genetic models of progerias

Program Contact: Max Guo, Ph.D.

Metabolic Regulation Program

This program supports research that examines the role of metabolism and related cellular and molecular pathways in aging and age-related morbidities. Topics may include:

  • Effects of age on nutrition/metabolism
  • Metabolic syndrome and its sequelae
  • Metabolic hormone action in aging
  • Age-related changes in mitochondrial function
  • Mechanism of lifespan extension by caloric restriction
  • Generation of free radicals and oxidative stress
  • Molecular aspects of the stress response

Program Contact: Yih-Woei Fridell, Ph.D.

Cell Biology Program

This program explores the impacts of aging on cellular pathways and processes. Topics may include:

  • Cell Senescence, apoptosis, and cell proliferation in aging
  • Aging and the cellular microenvironment/extracellular matrix
  • Effect of the microenvironment on age-dependent tumors
  • Protein homeostasis mechanisms, including translation and post-translational control, age-dependent protein damage accumulation, protein degradation

Acting Program Contact: Max Guo, Ph.D.

Emerging Technologies Program

This program aims to foster the development of innovative tools and technologies that can be applied to the study of biological aging mechanisms. Topics may include:

  • Applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, or health monitoring technologies to the study of aging, including “digital twins” in aging research
  • Bioinformatic, statistical, and computational approaches in aging biology research
  • Technology development for imaging modalities and visualization tools as applied to aging
  • Novel sensors and biomarkers for monitoring age-related changes and diseases
  • Less invasive and more ubiquitous ways of collecting biological and diagnostic data
  • Systems biology of aging
  • Other emerging technologies that may benefit aging research and reflect new directions, such as new imaging technologies or novel biophysical approaches
  • Tissues-, organs- and organ systems-on-a-chip technologies

Program Contact: Leonid Tsap, Ph.D.

Dr. Tsap is also a DAB point of contact for small business grants. See full description of DAB-supported small business grants here.

Cancer and Aging Cell Biology Program

This program is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the bidirectional molecular interplay between aging and the onset, progression, and treatment of cancer. Topics may include:

  • Mechanisms and relationships between aging processes and cancer risk at older ages
  • Impact of cancer therapy on aging
  • Aging-relevant laboratory models of cancers
  • Non-mutational epigenetic changes as drivers of age-related cancers

Program Contact: Raquel Sitcheran, Ph.D.

Synthetic Cell Biology Program

This program supports research that uses synthetic biology approaches to understand how cellular pathways and processes are impacted with age. Topics may include:

  • Molecular pathways and cell-state changes related to the biology of aging
  • Cell fate decisions with or without differentiation, and programmed cell death (other than apoptosis)

Program Contact: Raquel Sitcheran, Ph.D.

Molecular Epidemiology Program

This program aims to broaden the understanding of aging as a risk factor for functional decline that permits or contributes to dysfunction, deficit accumulation and/or morbidities. Topics may include:

  • Relationships between environmental exposures and rates of aging in human populations
  • Biomarkers for rates of aging in humans
  • Connections and integration between cross-sectional and longitudinal population studies on aging
  • Molecular features of aging as risk factors for aging phenotypes in humans and other animals

Program Contact: Yi-Ping Fu, Ph.D.

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