The Mair Lab’s research studies the basic biology of the aging process, driven by the central question: Why are we more likely to get chronic diseases when we are old than when we are young? What goes wrong in cells and tissues to increase overall risk, and is this decline inevitable or can we reverse it to bring healthy years to the elderly? In particular, we study the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which animals modulate the rate at which they age in response to changes in nutrition and the environment. The profound ability to slow aging during fasting or when food intake is reduced is seen in organisms ranging from yeast to primates and is coupled to a striking protection against a suite of age-related pathologies. These diseases include some of the most severe challenges to public health in the elderly: neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer. Here we discuss our recent work on neuronal regulation of peripheral metabolism and aging, focusing on upstream neural signaling pathways and downstream peripheral effectors that dictate the link between metabolism and aging.
Dr. Mair is Assistant Professor of Genetics and Complex Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.