Institute of Healthy Ageing
University College London
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C. elegans laboratory (David Gems)

Understanding the biology of longevity and ageing using a nematode model
The nature of the biological mechanisms at the heart of the ageing process is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in science. An ideal model organism in which to study ageing is the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This species has well-developed genetics, its ~100 million base pair genome is fully sequenced, and its life span is a mere 2-3 weeks. Importantly, numerous mutations have been identified in C. elegans which alter the rate of ageing, with some mutants living up to 10-times longer than wild-type worms. By understanding ageing in a simple animal like C. elegans we hope to begin to unravel the mystery of human ageing, and the wide range of diseases that it causes, from cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, to Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

A focus of current work in this laboratory is understanding the biological mechanisms that cause pathologies of ageing, and how such pathologies lead to mortality; and how reduced insulin/IGF-1 signalling and dietary restriction suppress ageing and increase lifespan. Other interests include the mechanisms of organismal death, sex differences in the biology of ageing, the role of the microbiome in ageing, evolutionary conservation of mechanisms of ageing, and bioethical implications of ageing research. Our work is largely funded by the European Union and the Wellcome Trust.

Research Team

Ahmed Ahmed, Research technician
Catherine Au, Research technician, email:
Alex Benedetto, Postdoc, email:
Sheena Carlsen, Undergraduate project student, email:
Marina Ezcurra, Postdoc, email:
Evgeniy Galimov, Postdoc, email:
David Gems (PI), Professor of Biogerontology, email:
Ann Gilliat, Graduate student, email:
Sarah Janac, Undergraduate project student, email:
Sarah Poole, Undergraduate lab project student, email:
Alexandra Petrache, Undergraduate lab project student, email:
Thanet Sornda, Graduate student, email:
Hongyuan Wang, Graduate student, email:
Yuan Zhao, Postdoc, email:

Short film about Gems lab work

Institute of Healthy Ageing, and G.E.E., University College London, The Darwin Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. Tel: +44 (0) 207 679 4381 E-mail:

Updated on 8th September 2015

Image: DAF-2 receptor
Homology model of DAF-2 receptor showing mutant lesions. Green = class 1, red = class 2, black= non-conditional alleles (Genetics, 2008)

Gems Lab Publications | About David Gems | Ph.D. opportunities in Gems lab | IHA main page | Genetics, Evolution and Environment | UCL home page

C. elegans Links
What is C. elegans | Wormbase | C. elegans Genetics Center | bionet.celegans newsgroup | Info from C. elegans labs | Nematode Net

More links
NCBI | CEE | Who's Who in Gerontology | Enhancement Technologies | UCL Library | PubMed | Google

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