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Cell Biology Branch and Programs

The Cell Biology Branch focuses on the basic molecular mechanisms believed to underlie age-related dysfunction and deficit accumulation, with a focus on molecular studies, performed primarily in cell culture, model organisms, and humans. Research supported by this branch includes genetic, cell biological, and metabolic changes that affect the length and/or quality of life in human and animal models. All portfolios within the branch support research on biomarkers of aging. Multidisciplinary approaches and advanced technologies are encouraged to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular determinants of aging and longevity across the full arc of biological systems — from molecules, genes, signal pathways, organelles to cells and organisms.

To learn about DAB-supported small business grants related to the basic molecular mechanisms believed to underlie age-related dysfunction and deficit accumulation contact Dr. Leonid Tsap.


The Cell Biology Branch has a broad array of programs that support research on the basic molecular mechanisms believed to underlie age-related dysfunction. Explore details about each program below:

Genetics Program

This program encompasses genetics and genomics research to identify and characterize molecular mechanisms affecting longevity and healthy aging. Topics may include:

  • Genetics, epigenetics, and chromatin biology
  • DNA damage and genomic instability
  • Genetic and stochastic variations and aging heterogeneity
  • Human genetics of healthy aging
  • Genes and mechanisms controlling the rate of aging
  • Genomic and multi-omic approaches to study aging and longevity
  • Biology of telomere, retrotransposons, and other repetitive elements
  • RNA biology and metabolism (RNA editing, splicing, modification, noncoding RNAs)
  • Molecular aspects 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:

  • Nutrition and metabolism in relation to aging
  • Age-related changes in mitochondrial function
  • Generation of free radicals and oxidative stress
  • Molecular aspects of the stress response
  • Mitochondrial fitness and integrity
  • Nutrient sensing
  • Mechanisms of calorie restriction
  • Circadian regulation of dietary interventions
  • Novel metabolites and signaling
  • Metabolic syndrome & sequelae
  • Metabolic hormone action

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

Cell Biology Program

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

  • Cell structure and cytoskeleton
  • Cell cycle, cell trafficking, and cellular signaling
  • Autophagy, cellular senescence, and apoptosis
  • Cellular microenvironment/extracellular matrix
  • Protein homeostasis mechanisms, including translation and post-translational control, age-dependent protein damage accumulation, and protein degradation
  • Cell biological aspects of progeria

Program Contact: Andras Orosz, 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
  • 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 novel imaging, biomedical engineering and biophysical approaches
  • Tissues-, organs- and organ systems-on-a-chip technologies

Program Contact: Leonid Tsap, Ph.D.

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
  • Mechanisms and causal relationships between therapies to treat cancers and acceleration of aging
  • Aging-relevant laboratory models of cancers
  • Non-genetic changes as potential drivers of age-related cancers
  • Functional overlaps and intersections between the hallmarks of aging and the hallmarks of cancer
  • Impact of cancer therapy on aging
  • Effect of the microenvironment on age-dependent tumors
  • Molecular features of aging as risk factors for aging phenotypes in humans and animals

Acting Program Contact: Max Guo, 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.


Contact Information

Branch Chief:

Max Guo, Ph.D.

Program Officers:

Yih-Woei Fridell, Ph.D.
Yi-Ping Fu, Ph.D.
Andras Orosz, Ph.D.
Leonid Tsap, Ph.D.

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