Institute of Healthy Ageing


IHA news

Congratulations to Jürg Bähler on his BBSRC grant

Ageing is highly complex and affected by diverse proteins and processes. Modern biological assays can simultaneously measure properties and interactions of thousands of proteins or genes, but it is challenging to make sense of such large datasets. Advances in computational data-analysis methods, called ‘machine learning’, provide exciting opportunities to get the most from large biological datasets and thus increase our understanding of complex processes like ageing. This interdisciplinary project involving three UCL Departments, led by the IHA's Jürg Bähler in collaboration with Christine Orengo and John Shawe-Taylor, will use fission yeast as a genetic model organism, together with multi-step machine learning, to comprehensively identify biological processes with fundamental importance for ageing.

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Congratulations to Johnathan Labbadia on his new Cell Reports paper

The IHA's Dr Johnathan Labbadia has just had a paper published in Cell Reports. Using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, Labbadia and colleagues demonstrate that low levels of mitochondrial stress caused by mutations or exposure to xenobiotics early in life, can suppress protein misfolding with age. This enhances stress resistance and delays ageing without detrimental effects on development or the number of offspring produced.

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Philanthropic Donation to the Institute of Healthy Ageing

The Gems lab are delighted to announce the receipt of a philanthropic donation from the entrepreneur and writer Jim Mellon, chairman of Burnbrae. This donation of approximately £100K will allow the purchase of a new structured illumination microscope system (Zeiss Apotome) which will be used in studies of ageing in animal models, particularly the development of senescent pathologies. This beautiful instrument with its technical innovations will significantly enhance the capacity of research at the Institute of Healthy Ageing to understand the causes of ageing. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Jim Mellon.

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Congratulations to Ekin Bolukbasi on her Cell Reports paper

The paper identifies the transcription factor FKH as a mediator of nutrient-sensing pathway signaling in Drosophila, and characterizes FKH’s essential involvement in increased longevity via this network. The authors pinpoint FKH’s pro-longevity effect to the gut, and they show increased expression of nutrient transporters and improvement of barrier function by FKH activity. Malnutrition caused by poor intestinal absorption is a major problem in the elderly, and a better understanding of the mechanisms involved will have important therapeutic implications for human aging.

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Gems Lab Summer Round Up

The Gems lab welcomes new research fellow Dr Jennifer Lohr, from Kiel University (Germany) - Jennifer is investigating evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of ageing in C. elegans - and says farewell to Dr Marina Ezcurra who is taking up a new position as a lecturer and Queen Mary's University of London.

A new joint study from the Gems and Tullet labs was published in Aging Cell, describing how the effects of SKN-1 on oxidative stress and lifespan can be uncoupled. This implies that this transcription factor, similar to mammalian Nrf2, influences lifespan by mechanisms other than protection against oxidative stress.

David Gems published two new essays on the general nature of ageing, “Aging: natural or disease? The view from medical textbooks” (in “Anti-aging drugs: from basic research to clinical practice” Royal Society of Chemistry; with Sarah Janac and Brendan Clarke), and “What is aging? ” in “AGE - From the anatomy of life to the architecture of living” (Crosstalks/VUB Press).

Marina Ezcurra gave a talk at the British Society for Research on Ageing, Thanet Sornda presented a poster at the International C. elegans Meeting in Los Angeles, and Hongyuan Wang at the Gordon Research Conference on the Biology of Aging in Switzerland. David recently gave talks at the conference "The Ageing Cell" at the Babraham Institute, and at Ghent University (Belgium), Leeds University, and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing (Germany).

Two master's (M.Res.) students from the Gems lab obtained Ph.D. positions: Sophie van Schelt at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing (Cologne), and Chenhao Yang at the University of Maine. Well done both!

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Lectureship for Marina Ezcurra!

Currently a Wellcome Trust-funded postdoc in David Gems' lab, Marina Ezcurra will shortly be taking up a Lectureship in Neurobiology at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, where she will be setting up her own laboratory. There she will continue her investigations of the biology of ageing in model organisms, particularly C. elegans. The new post will also involve contributing to a joint programme with the University of Nanchang in the People's Republic of China. We wish Marina all the best in setting up her new lab!

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New report by Yuan Zhao and Ann Gilliat in Nature Communications describes causes of death in ageing C. elegans

A new study from David Gems' lab describes a major life-limiting pathology in C. elegans, thereby providing insight into the mechanisms underlying lifespan determination in this organism.

For several decades, numerous research groups have studied how manipulation of a wide variety of genes can affect C. elegans lifespan, as a route to understanding the ageing process. Yet the mechanisms of ageing itself remain poorly understood. In a different approach this new study focuses on the actual causes of death in ageing populations and the mechanisms leading up to them. It demonstrates that C. elegans exhibit two different types of death that are differentially affected by treatments that increase lifespan. Analysis of such differential effects (or mortality deconvolution) allows the complex shapes of survival curves and mortality profiles to be explained. This study begins to bridge the gap between genetics and lifespan by means of analysis of the senescent pathologies that determine lifespan.

The paper is available at http://rdcu.be/sNIZ

For more information, see the press release about this study.

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Research Technician post available

We are seeking a technician to work on a project investigating genetic modifiers of a fly model of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (caused by C9orf72 mutation) in Professor Linda Partridge’s laboratory and Drosophila fly facility. The post will involve data gathering and monitoring, in addition to setting up and carefully maintaining transgenic fly stocks. The post is available in the first instance until September 2018. For full details and to apply please visit https://atsv7.wcn.co.uk/search_engine/jobs.cgi?SID=amNvZGU9MTYzODcxMiZ2dF90ZW1wbGF0ZT05NjUmb3duZXI9NTA0MTE3OCZvd25lcnR5cGU9ZmFpciZicmFuZF9pZD0wJnZhY3R5cGU9MTI3NyZwb3N0aW5nX2NvZGU9MjI0

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Welcome to Magda Atilano

 Welcome to Dr Magda Atilano who joins the Partridge lab at the IHA today. Magda is joining us from the Biochemistry department at University of Oxford where she worked in Drosophila immunity lab.

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Welcome to Matías Fuentealba

The IHA extends a warm welcome to Matías Fuentealba who joins Linda Partridge’s group this week as a PhD student. Matias recently completed his Masters in Biological Sciences at the Universidad de Chile, where his work comprised a “study of the energetics and structural characteristics of NAD and NADP binding sites through statistical potentials.” Welcome to London Matías!

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David Gems on BBC Radio 4 "Archive on 4"

On Saturday, November 26 2016 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a 1 hr programme entitled "Logan's Run and Intergenerational War", presented by Ed Howker, with extensive contributions from IHA Co-Director Professor David Gems. The programme included in depth discussion of the impact of the ageing of populations, and the prospects for treatments for ageing to improve late-life health. Among other contributors to the programme were former Universities and Science minister David Willetts and the actress Jenny Agutter.

The programme is available for a short period via the BBC iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b083j672#play

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CNN news: How long can humans live?

Following her BBC interview Professor Linda Partridge spoke with CNN's Bianca Britton, whose article asks, "how long can humans live?"

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ARUK funded post-doc position available at the IHA

The Institute of Healthy Ageing is currently seeking a post-doctoral research associate to work on the following ARUK-funded project.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are two devastating, mid-life, neurodegenerative disorders for which no cure is currently available. Large expansions of a hexanucleotide GGGGCC-repeat in the first intron of the C9orf72 gene is the most common genetic cause of both ALS and FTD. We recently developed novel Drosophila models of C9orf72 repeat-induced neurodegeneration (Mizielinska et al Science 2014, 345:1192-1194).

This 3-year post-doctoral position will build on this work by investigating disease mechanisms in a range of C9orf72 fly lines using several approaches including genome-wide transcriptomic and translational analyses in both flies and iPSC-neurons. You will work as part of a collaborative team of investigators in the excellent and supportive scientific research community of UCL.

The post is funded for 3 years in the first instance by Alzheimer’s Research UK and is available from October 2016.

For full information and to apply please visit the UCL website at https://goo.gl/E5vk8j

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Lectureship for Alexandre Benedetto

Until recently an EU-funded postdoc in David Gems's lab, Alex Benedetto will shortly set up his own laboratory at the University of Lancaster, in the Department of Biomedical and Life Sciences. There he will continue his investigations of the biology of ageing in model organisms, particularly C. elegans. We wish Alex all the best in setting up his new lab!

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Congratulations to Dr Jorge Ivan Castillo Quan on his Cell Reports paper

Congratulations to Dr Jorge Ivan Castillo Quan whose paper in Cell Reports was published today. His research, which was carried out during his PhD studies at the Institute of Healthy Ageing, demonstrates that fruit flies live 16% longer than average when given low doses of the mood stabiliser lithium.

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