Research and Funding

Division of Aging Biology

Who We Are and What We Do

The objective of DAB-funded research is to elucidate the basic biochemical, genetic, and physiological mechanisms underlying the process of aging and age-related changes in humans and in animal models of human aging. This includes investigations of the gradual or programmed alterations of structure and function that characterize normal aging and investigations of how these adverse changes become risk factors for, or accompany, age-related conditions and disease states.

The scientific research portfolio is managed by the Division Director and three Branches: Aging Physiology Biological Resources, and Genetics and Cell Biology. In addition to the specific areas of interest indicated below, DAB also supports interdisciplinary research and integrated studies on the mechanisms that affect aging at the organism scale, including systems biology.

Office of the Director (Felipe Sierra, Ph.D.)

Nathan Shock Centers for Excellence in Basic Biology of Aging

This Core Center Grant program (P30 mechanism) was established in 1995 to enhance well-developed institutional programs in basic research on aging by providing state-of-the-art research resources to create the strongest environment possible for the conduct of basic aging research. Applications are accepted only in response to a Request for Applications.

Training Grant (T32) Program

NIA recognizes the continuing and expanding need to train new researchers in aging research, and the institutional training grant program is the major mechanism to accomplish this. The T32 mechanism provides institutional support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Support for individual trainees is usually limited to 3 years.

Genetics and Cell Biology Branch (Chief: Max Guo, Ph.D.)

The Genetics and Cell Biology Branch focuses on the basic molecular mechanisms believed to underlie age-related dysfunction, with a focus on molecular studies, performed primarily in cell culture and model organisms. Research supported by this branch includes genetic manipulations that affect the length and/or quality of life.

Cell Biology Program (José Velázquez, Ph.D.)

  • Cell senescence, apoptosis and cell proliferation in aging
  • Aging and the cellular microenvironment/extracellular matrix
  • Effect of the microenvironment on age-dependent tumors
  • Translation and posttranslational control
  • Age-dependent protein damage
  • Effects of age on protein turnover

Genetics Program (Max Guo, Ph.D.)

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

Metabolic Regulation Program (Yih-Woei Fridell, Ph.D.)

  • 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

Aging Physiology Branch (Chief: Rebecca Fuldner, Ph. D.)

The Aging Physiology Branch focuses on age-related changes affecting tissue and organ function. Research supported by this branch includes fundamental mechanisms of altered function in tissues and organs that contribute to conditions and diseases of aging. Research is supported at molecular, cellular and higher levels of organization including integration across tissues and organ systems. The Aging Physiology Branch coordinates support for stem cell and translational research.

Cardiovascular Biology Program (Ronald Kohanski, Ph.D.)

  • Age-dependent changes in cardiac and vascular structure and function.
  • Role of stem cells in cardiac and vascular maintenance and renewal.
  • Aging effects on cell death and proliferation in the heart and vasculature.
  • Aging of the vascular endothelium.
  • Aging of the pulmonary system.

Digestive, Renal, Pulmonary and Reproductive Programs (Francesca Macchianini, Ph.D.)

  • Age-related changes that affect the liver and digestive systems
  • Age-related changes that affect the renal system

Endocrinology Program (Rebecca Fuldner, Ph.D.)

  • Age-related changes in hormone production, metabolism, and action
  • Aging changes in the reproductive system, including hormonal changes and their consequences
  • Age-related changes in non reproductive hormones and hormone action

Immunology Program (Rebecca Fuldner, Ph.D.)

  • Molecular basis of age-related decline in adaptive and innate immune functions
  • Age-related changes in hematopoiesis, thymopoiesis, lymphocyte differentiation and proliferation
  • Inflammation and aging
  • Autoimmune disease and other age-related immunopathology
  • Interventions to retard and/or correct age-related decline in immune function

Musculoskeletal Biology Program (John Williams, Ph.D.)

  • Age-related changes in the cellular and matrix components of bone
  • Age-related changes in muscle structure and function
  • Age-related changes in cartilage and soft connective tissue
  • Age-related changes in skin and wound healing
  • Molecular basis of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia

Stem Cell Biology Program (Ronald Kohanski, Ph.D.)

  • Role of the aged microenvironment in stem cell functions
  • Factors affecting age-dependent changes in stem cell renewal and differentiation

Biological Resources Branch (Chief: Nancy Nadon, Ph.D.)

The Biological Resources Branch focuses on the identification, development and characterization of new animal models — both mammalian and invertebrate — for use in aging research. In addition, this Branch manages and maintains the biological resources needed to support aging research, including both rodent colonies and tissue banks.

Animal Models Program (Francesca Macchianini, Ph.D.)

  • Development of new models for aging research
  • Comparative biology of aging
  • Rodent pathology and lifespan studies

Biological Resources Program (Nancy Nadon, Ph.D.)

  • Management of biological resources and resource contracts
  • Management of informational resources
  • Coordination of the aged non-human primate resources
  • Intervention Testing Program