Training in the Neurobiology of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
With the “graying of America,” we are faced with the need to address the ever-increasing number of individuals in our society who have age-associated nervous system disease and conditions.
To address this problem, we need multidisciplinary approaches to facilitate the discovery of the mechanisms, treatments, and prevention of these diseases. Active, integrated research-based training of pre-doctoral students is key to re-supplying the research personnel needed to address the biomedical health care issues in a sustainable manner.
Training in the neurobiology of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease is proposed to address the ever-increasing numbers of individuals in our society who have age-associated nervous system disease and conditions. The National Institute on Aging T32 Ruth Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award focuses on diversity training, scientific excellence and leadership, and preparation of trainees for successful careers in the neurobiology of aging, through intensive research and research-related activities and publication of high-quality research reports.
Meet the 2020 – 2021 T32 Fellows
|Advances in epigenetics have revealed that methylation patterns in both the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes vary across tissue types and with the age of an individual. Epigenetic modifications have been implicated in numerous neurobiological and cognitive processes, and thus may play a key role in the progression and pathology of age-related brain disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Although this area of research has received increased attention in recent years, most of the resultant data are limited by the techniques utilized, namely bisulfite conversion. In light of these shortcomings, my current research is focused on the development of PCR-free enrichment strategies prior to single-molecule nanopore-based sequencing. Enrichment followed by nanopore sequencing ensures that target regions outcompete background noise for pore access, allowing for direct, long-range phasing of polymorphisms in gene regions as well as detection of epigenetic modifications. The ability to simultaneously assess nucleotide composition and methylation patterns could provide critical information in the context of the genetic and epigenetic features of age-related diseases and health disparities. Ultimately, this method will form the foundation for future research efforts aimed at identifying variation in the methylomes of healthy and diseased tissues across different regions of the brain.|
|In the Human Vascular Physiology Laboratory, our focus is on investigating how the human vascular system adjusts to exercise and environmental stress (heat) in healthy and diseased populations. My research specifically is centered around the vascular ischemia-reperfusion injury and considering the potential mechanisms by which it induces damage and also exploring possible therapies to protect against it. An Ischemia-reperfusion injury occurs when blood flow to an area is occluded for an extended period of time, after which the vessel that was blocked becomes impaired – even after the blockage is cleared. This situation can arise a multitude of ways, like during surgery via arterial clamping, or by a more “natural” occlusion that occurs during an ischemic stroke or myocardial infarction. My hope is that by better understanding the mechanism by which ischemia-reperfusion impairs vascular function, we will be better equipped to prevent and/or treat it. Moreover, any insight gained into the regulation of vascular function will enhance our understanding of vascular physiology even beyond the context of ischemia-reperfusion injury.|
Meet the Principal Investigators
Michael Forster, Ph.D.
Intern Chair and Regents Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Faculty Profile: Michael Forster, Ph.D.
|The goal of research in my lab is to understand the biology that makes us slow down and become more vulnerable to disease and injury as we grow older. We know that it is possible to combat aging biology because some people achieve advanced age in truly great condition. Studies of the habits and biology of such individuals during their lives are underway, but it may take several human lifetimes for them to be completed. Lower organisms grow old more rapidly and, like humans, show great differences among individuals in terms of how long they remain robust and resist disease and injury. By studying lower organisms, my laboratory is focused on the promise that we can rapidly discover ways to combat deleterious aging conditions, study how they work, and design trials in humans. Understanding the biology of aging will help us treat all aging-related diseases (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, etc).|
This page was last modified on July 1, 2020