Columbia University Medical Center

New Columbia Aging Center Series: “Biologies” of Aging?

MimiShirasuHiza

Mimi Shirasu-Hiza, PhD, inaugural speaker in “Biologies” of Aging series.

The Columbia Aging Center, a university-wide center devoted to basic and translational research on aging, has launched a seminar series that showcases CUMC scientists working on the so-called “hallmarks” of aging, which include genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic alterations, loss of proteostasis, deregulated nutrient sensing, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cellular senescence.

CUMC researchers Gerard Karsenty, Michael Hart, Mimi Shirasu-Hiza, Liza Pon, and Ai Yamamoto are all featured in this series titled “Biologies” of Aging?.

The series is both a showcase for the university’s expertise on basic cellular aging processes and an opportunity for uptown and downtown scientists to connect.

Dr. Shirasu-Hiza, assistant professor of genetics & development, was the inaugural speaker. She uses Drosphila as model organism and studies circadian rhythm. Her work suggests that the regulation of circadian rhythms may be an important missing link in the puzzle of biological aging. Not so different from humans, fruit flies have an approximately 24-hour clock. In both species, circadian regulation changes as organisms age and the amplitudes dampen. She works with a mutant fly that is totally arrhythmic and lives longer than wild Drosophila. She notes with a smile that, as all of us might like to do, these mutants eat more and exercise less and still outlive typical flies. This riddle and its implications for human beings still await further elucidation.

Next up in the series is postdoctoral fellow Michael Hart, who works in Oliver Hobert’s laboratory. His talk on March 2 is titled “A New Model for Studying Neuronal Aging in C. elegans.”

Two guest speakers appeared in the series as part of the center’s joint seminars with the Department of Genetics & Development. Titia de Lange from Rockefeller University discussed telomeric genome instability Feb. 2 before a packed audience in the Hammer Health Sciences Center. Later in the year, Anne Brunet from Stanford will talk about “Epigenetic and Metabolic Regulation of Aging.”

The series culminates on April 21 with the Columbia Aging Center’s second Distinguished Lecture by Gerard Karsenty, chair, Department of Genetics & Development at P&S.

To learn more about the Columbia Aging Center and to attend the seminars in “Biologies” of Aging?, visit the center’s website: aging.columbia.edu.