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Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence

The Division of Aging Biology (DAB) of the NIA currently funds Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging across the United States. 

What do the Nathan Shock Centers do?

The Centers provide leadership in the pursuit of basic research into the biology of aging. Each Center has a Research Development Core which administers small start-up funds locally, and organizes national annual meetings to highlight specific areas of research.

In addition, each Nathan Shock Center has several specialized cores that provide services to support aging biology research. The cores are different in each Center, depending on the strengths of each Institution. Click on each Nathan Shock Center listed below to learn more about their work.

Nathan Shock Centers Coordinating Center

AFAR Leadership Team: Steven N. Austad, Ph.D., Stephanie Lederman, M.Ed., Odette van der Willik, and David Allison, Ph.D.
Contact the NSC Coordinating Center: contact@nathanshockcenters.org
Visit the NSC Coordinating Center website

The Coordinating Center aims to:

  • Enhance the Nathan Shock Centers' external communication with the lay public, expand information resources and serve as scientific exchange forum among sites as well as other NIA- and NIH-funded, federal and privately funded initiatives promoting aging biology training and/or research. 
  • Work with the NSC directors to develop and implement data quality control and sharing between centers and with the scientific community at large.
  • Provide logistical support to the Nathan Shock Centers for interactions with NIA staff.
  • Develop and implement evaluation strategies for assessing the effectiveness of the Nathan Shock Centers and the Coordinating Center, guide future directions, and report outcomes to stakeholders.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine Nathan Shock Center

Nir Barzilai, M.D., Director
Contact the Center Director: nir.barzilai@einsteinmed.org 
Visit the Albert Einstein Institute for Aging Research Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • The Proteostasis of Aging Core provides state-of-the-art methodology for the study of changes in cellular protein homeostasis in aging and age-related disorders.
  • Performs integrative phenotyping of health and function across multiple domains in aging rodents by leveraging long-standing expertise in conducting sophisticated in vivo metabolic studies, hormonal assays, and specialized surgeries, including parabiosis, as well as newly added services, including geropathology, behavior, and cardiovascular function. These studies are supported by an experienced and skilled team of staff scientists and technicians, and a distinguished group of expert consultants.
  • Offers consultation, advice, and training to investigators interested in implementing these studies in their own lab, or to devise a customized study design for services in the Core.
  • Makes an aging and parabiotic tissue repository available for dissemination to investigators upon request.
  • Assists in the design, performance and data analyses necessary for carrying out multi-omics studies.
  • RDC provides funding for Pilot and Feasibility studies, enhances and supports E-NSC science at Einstein, identifies new faculty who have potential for "conversion" to aging research and provides continuous mentoring through grant applications, assists junior faculty and investigators new to aging research, and provides formal education in the biology of aging.

 

The Jackson Laboratory Nathan Shock Center

Gary A. Churchill, Ph.D. and Ron Korstanje, Ph.D., Directors
Contact the Center Directors: gary.churchill@jax.org and ron.korstanje@jax.org
Visit theJackson Lab Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Provides unique and diverse animal resources to enhance research in the genetics of aging by developing and disseminating aging mouse models and resources.
  • The overall goal of the JAX NSC Data and Statistical Core is to provide support for the management, quality control, analysis, and dissemination of data for JAX NSC projects.
  • Develops machine learning tools to perform quantitative geropathology analysis of tissues. Evaluates, integrates and disseminates data relating to the genetics of aging from mouse, human and other organisms.
  • Provides support for career development of junior faculty entering the field of basic aging biology or other investigators who wish to change career direction towards basic aging research.

 

Oklahoma Nathan Shock Center

Arlan Richardson, Ph.D., Director
Contact the Center Director: arlan-richardson@ouhsc.edu
Visit the Oklahoma Nathan Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Provide both intellectual and organizational leadership in developing a research emphasis in geroscience in Oklahoma City as well as the State of Oklahoma.
  • Sponsor the annual Oklahoma Geroscience Symposium.
  • Geropathology Research Resource.
  • Provides investigators at institutions throughout the United States conducting geroscience related research with pilot funding. These funds can be used to access the resources of the Oklahoma Nathan Shock Center at no cost. These NIA sponsored funds are typically reserved for junior faculty members at the early stages of their career although more senior investigators that are new to the aging field also may be eligible for funding.
  • Uses LC-tandem MS with selected reaction monitoring (SRM) to measure protein abundance in tissue samples from rodents as well as invertebrates and other animals used in geroscience research.
  • Panels of proteins (20 to 30) in the following pathways are available for rats and mice: antioxidant proteins, β-oxidation, glycolysis, TCA-cycle, and various mitochondrial proteins
  • Assays for proteins involved in other pathways can be designed and validated for rodents and humans.
  • Panels of proteins for invertebrates (yeast, C. elegans, Drosophila) and exceptionally long-lived species (e.g., naked mole rats, bats, birds, etc.) can be developed.
  • Determination of protein turnover using deuterium oxide labeling.
  • A genome-wide, base-specific analysis of 5mC levels in all gene promoters and all of the non-repeat region CpG islands, shores, and shelves of the human, mouse, or rat genome using Bisulfite Oligonucleotide Capture Sequencing assay gives investigators.
  • DNA methylation in the promoter regions (a few hundred bases to a few kilobases) of a specific gene from any species.
  • Whole mitochondrial genome sequencing for human, mouse, and rat (as well as other animal models, including invertebrates) to identify heteroplasmic variants.
  • Absolute quantification of mitochondria DNA copy number in human, mouse, and rat samples.
  • Single cell transcriptomics.
  • Assays of redox status, e.g., GSH/GSSG, NADPH/NADP+, NADH/NAD+.
  • Assays of oxidative damage, e.g., F2-isoprostanes, 8-oxo-deoxy guanosine, and protein carbonyls.
  • Mitochondrial function in cells and tissues.
  • In vivo free radical imaging.
  • Provides support in statistics and bioinformatics for data analysis, including prioritization of Y2H PPI studies.
  • Processing and analysis of ChIP-seq, RNA-seq and microarray experimental data.
  • Text-mining analysis to identify published commonalities, how two things are connected, or infer novel connections.
  • Transcriptional network analysis to predict gene or ncRNA function, even when no literature exists on the transcript.

 

San Antonio Nathan Shock Center

Randy Strong, Ph.D., Director
Contact the Center: barshopinstitute@uthscsa.edu
Visit the San Antonio Nathan Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Seminars, meetings, and conferences.
  • Weekly Aging Research Seminars, Journal Club, and an annual Conference on Aging.
  • The RD Core runs a pilot project program to enable investigators to take advantage of the expertise of the cores at the San Antonio Shock Center. Please email for details.
  • Breed and maintain rodent colonies.
  • Lifespan studies in rodents.
  • Provide animal models for baseline pilot studies.
  • Provide diets containing rapamycin and other drugs.
  • Educate staff in animal husbandry and experimental design.
  • Assessments of endocrine / metabolic function and body composition / structure.
  • Measurement of cardiac parameters in mice.
  • Tests of locomotor behavior and cognitive health.
  • End of life and cross-sectional pathology in rodents and other species maintained by the Aging Animal and Longevity Assessment Core.
  • Quantitative morphometric analyses by 3D and 2D imaging.
  • Develop a database and tissue archive of histopathology.
  • Develop validated bioanalytical assays for drugs used in aging studies.
  • Measure drug levels in powders and solutions, lab chow, whole blood, serum, plasma, and tissues such as liver, brain, kidney, intestine, skin, etc. from aging mice.

 

San Diego Nathan Shock Center

Gerald Shadel, Ph.D., Director
Contact the Center Director: gshadel@salk.edu 
View the San Diego Nathan Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Oversee activities of the Research Resource Cores.
  • Facilitate efforts of the Research Development Core to support and grow basic biology or aging research generally, and the heterogeneity of aging specifically.
  • Integrate feedback from the External Advisory Panel.
  • Advertise SD-NSC core services, foster collaborations with other NSCs via the coordinating center, and organize lectures, symposia and other public outreach activities.
  • Provide pilot grants for projects that take advantage of the cutting-edge SD-NSC Research Resource Cores, coupled with personalized mentoring.
  • Promote the professional development of junior investigators and the entry of senior faculty into the field of aging biology.
  • Provide conceptual and practical training in the scientific services offered by the SD-NSC Research Resource Cores. These activities are linked to the La Jolla Aging Meeting (LJAM), an annual 1-day symposium highlighting local biology of aging research, held at the Salk Institute.
  • Generate fibroblast and iPSC models of human aging from a cohort annotated for biological age.
  • Create induced cell models that retain age-related phenotypes.
  • Develop organoid and hybrid cell models to study niche-specific aging dynamics.
  • Provide advice on core usage and annual hands-on training through workshops organized in conjunction with the Research Development Core.
  • Disseminate cells and protocols.
  • Enable single-cell transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses to address the heterogeneity of cellular aging.
  • Provide access to high-end mass spectroscopy and multimodal, high-resolution imaging to address age-related heterogeneity of cells and tissues.
  • Provide advice on core usage and annual hands-on training through workshops organized in conjunction with the Research Development Core.
  • Share novel analytic methods and algorithms.
  • Facilitate pre-processing and storage of data from high-throughput analyses.
  • Develop and help implement integrative modeling tools for studying the biology of aging and the role of cell and tissue heterogeneity.
  • Provide advice on core usage and annual hands-on training through workshops organized in conjunction with the Research Development Core.

 

University of Alabama at Birmingham Nathan Shock Center

Steven Austad, Ph.D., Director
Contact the Center Director: austad@uab.edu
Visit the University of Alabama at Birmingham Nathan Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Promotes the quality, services and activities the Research Cores.
  • Evaluates and enhances the impact of the Research Cores for the research community.
  • Coordinates education, training, and outreach for the aging research community.
  • Stimulates interactions and collaborations between the Center and the aging research community.
  • Provides day-to-day administrative support and financial management for the Center.
  • Organizes and supports seminars and symposia focused on the basic biology of aging.
  • Offers research career development activities for graduate students and postdoctoral associates affiliated with the Center.
  • Works with the Internal and External Advisory Committees.
  • Manages the membership of the Center, in collaboration with the Internal Advisory Committee.
  • Provides consultation in methods and study design, training, expertise and state-of-the-art instrumentation to facilitate research on the role of whole animal energetics and metabolism in aging.
  • Learn about the full list of services and COEC fees.
  • Provides consultation in study design, research proposal development, and data analysis, including traditional, specialized, and bespoke methods for scientists performing research on the basic biology of aging. CDAC also conducts high level statistical investigations of secondary data to answer questions about the comparative biology and energetics of aging. See the complete list of CDAC services.
  • Offers state-of-the-art services to investigators to facilitate research and training on mitochondrial function and mitophagy as it relates to aging.
  • Learn about the full list of services.
  • Advertises broadly for proposals for Pilot and/or Feasibility studies in comparative energetics of aging from faculty in all disciplines.
  • Administers a review system that ensures optimal use of the Center's research cores.
  • Promotes interdisciplinary activities that leverage resources from a range of fields.
  • Provides mentoring and support for the Pilot/Feasibility awardees.
  • Identifies proposals exploring promising areas of research or seeking to address controversial areas in the basic biology of aging.
  • Evaluates the Pilot/Feasibility Program success.
  • Facilitates synergy and collaboration among awardees and other aging researchers.

 

University of Southern California and Buck Institute Nathan Shock Center

Pinchas Cohen, M.D. and Eric Verdin, M.D., Directors
Contact the University of Southern California and Buck Institute Nathan Shock Center
View the University of Southern California and Buck Institute Nathan Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Provides infrastructure support and leadership to the USC-Buck NSC cores, access to essential resources, coordination with other NSCs across the nation, and procurement of matching institutional financial support exceeding $1 million over 5 years.
  • Provides training in state-of-the-art methodologies, coordinate Research Sabbaticals in Aging and mentorship opportunities with world-class faculty and educational opportunities.
  • Identifies pilot project opportunities from a nation-wide search that provides access to all USC-Buck NSC Cores.
  • Provides future aging researchers access to the wealth of experience, expertise, and resources at both campuses.
  • Provides researchers utilizing model-organisms (yeast, worms, flies, fish, and mice) the ability to interrogate a rich resource of human genomic SNP, methylation, and expression data from the NIH Health and Retirement Study (HRS).
  • Determines how specific cell fates (e.g. senescence, apoptosis, competition) contribute to aging and methods of intervention across models (e.g. cultured cells, organoids, tissue and organ samples, and organisms).
  • Helps researchers characterize both cell-autonomous and non-autonomous features of these cell fates.
  • Provides established assays.
  • Gives advice regarding intervention strategies.
  • Provides vouchers for access to a range of technology platforms and deep expertise in many aspects of aging. This includes access to all existing institutional technology and expertise across various model systems at both institutions.
  • Unique capabilities include studies of air pollution exposure, female reproductive aging, and cutting-edge technologies for single-cell analyses, mitochondria and metabolism, and bioinformatics.

 

University of Washington Nathan Shock Center

Matt Kaeberlein, Ph.D. and Peter S. Rabinovitch, M.D., Ph.D., Director
Contact the Center Directors: kaeber@uw.edu and petersr@u.washington.edu
View the University of Washington Nathan Shock Center website

Core
Services Provided
  • Provides effective leadership, administration, and management of the Center.
  • Supports the External Advisory Board of distinguished scientists who provide review and recommendations to the executive leadership of the Center and engages in outreach activities, including workshops, courses, lectures and symbosia.
  • Oversees and ensures dissemination of Center resources and research findings to the geroscience community and collaborates with other funded Nathan Shock Centers.
  • Supports an inter-Nathan Shock Center Geropathology Research Resource (GRR) led by Dr. Warren Ladiges.
  • Provides support for researchers nation- and world-wide, most often junior faculty, to develop pilot data to aid in new project and career development. This is assisted by granting of competitive awards for pilot project support for studies in the basic biology of aging, using the key resources provided by our Resource Cores.
  • Support with design and execution of experiments using proteomics to ask aging–related questions.
  • Guidance and assistance in sample preparation for proteomics.
  • Targeted and discovery proteomics data collection.
  • Measurements of peptide abundance and half-life by mass spectrometry.
  • Software tools and support for the analysis of proteomics data. These include Skyline for targeted and SRM/PRM proteomics and Topograph for stable isotope half-life measurements. Workshops on software tools are held each year.
  • Provides state-of-the-art hardware and software tools to detect, identify and quantify aging-associated metabolites.
  • Assists in the experimental design and statistical analysis of these metabolite profiles.
  • Develops novel analytical tools for more powerful analysis of metabolome studies.
  • Assists investigators throughout the research community in quantifying a variety of longevity and healthspan measures in two of the major invertebrate model organisms: the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This is accomplished through direct collaboration, training and outreach, and the development and dissemination of new tools and technologies. 
  • Statistical consultation on project design and data analysis (required for pilot projects).
  • Statistical analysis of a variety of data types, often -omics and survival data from experiments performed by the other Cores.
  • Consultation on AI or computationally intensive projects in aging research.
  • Collaboration on application of AI methods to important problems in aging research.