Institute of Healthy Ageing


Prof David Gems

Prof David Gems


Institute of Healthy Ageing, Darwin Building
Gower Street


  • Professor of Biogerontology
    Genetics, Evolution & Environment
    Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL


Understanding the biology of longevity and ageing using a nematode model While developmental genetics has been an area of intensive study for many years, investigation of the role of genes in determining longevity and ageing only recently began. An ideal model organism in which to study ageing is the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This species has well-developed genetics, its 97,000,000 base pair genome is fully sequenced, and its life span is a mere 2-3 weeks. Most importantly, numerous mutations have been identified in C. elegans which alter the rate of ageing, with some mutants living more than ten times as long as wild-type worms. It is hoped that by understanding ageing in a simple animal like C. elegans we will be able to unravel the mystery of human ageing, which increases risk of a wide range of diseases, from cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, to Alzheimer's disease and cancer. A major focus of current work in this laboratory is understanding the genes and biochemical processes by which reduced insulin/IGF-1 signalling and dietary restriction increase lifespan. Other interests include sex differences in the biology of ageing, evolutionary conservation of mechanisms of ageing, and bioethical implications of ageing research. 

Award year Qualification Institution
1990 PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Molecular Genetics
University of Glasgow
1983 BSc
Bachelor of Science
University of Sussex


Ageing|*|Autophagy|*|Bioinformatics|*|Biology of ageing in animal models|*|C. elegans|*|Diabetes|*|Evolution|*|Gene expression|*|Genetics|*|Genomics|*|Huntington's disease|*|Lysosome|*|MRNA|*|Mitochondria|*|Neurodegeneration|*|Oxidative stress|*|Phosphoinositides|*|Protein aggregation|*|Protein misfolding|*|Serine/threonine protein kinase|*|Transcription factor|*|Transthyretin|*|Well-being