Aging is a fundamental biological process, and age-related diseases are the leading causes of death in modern societies. The objective of the proposed Molecular Biology of Aging Predoctoral Graduate Training Program (MBoA) is simple: to train the next generation of scientists to attack the immensely challenging yet important task of understanding and eventually manipulating human aging. The MBoA will bring together molecular biologists, computational and population biologists, and geriatricians to provide instruction and training to graduate students in the molecular mechanisms of aging.
The aim will be to provide PhD candidates with a strong academic and experimental foundation in the current landscape of molecular aging research, and to equip them with the skills to pursue a research career in this field. Our understanding of aging has reached a watershed in the past 10 years that was enabled by the increasing use of forward genetics in simple model systems. Thirteen faculty from 6 different departments have come together to launch the MBoA Training Program. Their research interests span from insulin/IGF signaling, chromatin structure, cellular senescence, mitochondrial function and protein quality control to degenerative disorders of the nervous system, heart and cartilage. The experimental systems span from yeast through nematode and Drosophila to mammalian models including the mouse and a variety of cell culture models. Support is requested for 2 trainees in year 1 and for a total of 4 trainees in year 2 through 5. Trainees will be supported for a period of 1 to 2 years. Candidates for support will be drawn from talented students in the program, either in their first year based on academic excellence, or in subsequent years based on the caliber of their research. The MBoA Training Program will operate as a track under the auspices of 2 existing and well-established programs at Brown University, the Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry Graduate Program (MCB), and the Graduate Program in Pathobiology. These successful programs have different, but with respect to the biology of aging, very complementary and synergistic areas of activity: MCB is the seat of molecular expertise and model organisms, whereas Pathobiology holds the keys to mammalian and human physiology and pathology. The combination and integration of these approaches is the cornerstone of the philosophy of the MBoA. While research in invertebrate model systems will provide leads to the underlying molecular mechanisms of aging, these principles will have to be interpreted in terms of mammalian physiology and ultimately integrated with human pathology. Only a truly interdisciplinary approach can hope to eventually implement therapies to alleviate the suffering caused by age-associated degenerative processes.
The increase of more than 25 years in the average life expectancy of Americans during the 20th century is remarkable;however, this rapid increase of the elderly population has led to a burden of disease and disability that threatens to overwhelm our society. Fortunately, research is beginning to identify universal mechanisms that determine and even regulate the aging of all organisms, including humans, and impact all organ systems. The objective of this training program is to train the next generation of scientists to engage in interdisciplinary research to discover and implement therapies to alleviate the suffering caused by age-associated degenerative processes.
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