Senior Scholar Award in Aging
Gordon Lithgow, Ph.D.
Buck Institute for Age Research

The Rapid Identification of Hormones and Pharmacological Compounds that Slow Aging in C. elegans

Hypothesis: Small molecule pharmacological agents, including synthetic hormones, that enhance stress response will slow aging and age-related functional decline.  

Much of the remarkable progress in the biology of aging has emerged from the lifespan extension paradigm in simple animal models such as fruit flies and the microscopic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. It is now known that hormonal pathways in nerve cell have a profound influence on the rate of aging in simple animals. The challenge is now to “solve” the biology of aging in these systems and quickly apply the emergent knowledge to human aging and age-related disease. Having a range of pharmacological compounds with anti-aging properties would be of enormous value for studying normal aging, functional decline and age-related disease. We and others have already demonstrated that pharmacological interventions in aging are practicable, at least in simple animals. New technologies have been recently developed for the rapid handling and analysis of the microscopic C. elegans with the result that aging experiments can be conducted many thousands of times faster than by traditional methods. The Ellison Medical Foundation Scholarship allows for the implementation of this technology by undertaking a screen for anti-aging compounds.

Contact Dr. Lithgow.