The overall goal of the Translational Biogerontology Laboratory is to slow the aging process. By slowing the aging process, our goal is to extend the period of our lives spent free of disease – now referred to as extending the healthspan.
We approach this problem by studying the interaction of mitochondrial energetics, protein turnover, and stress resistance. This triad is complicated because of the interdependence of the factors. For example, stress resistance requires efficient energy production as does protein turnover, but protein turnover is required to improve stress resistance and mitochondrial energetics. We study the basic biology of these processes and attempt to intervene to slow aging.
We use a variety of approaches to solve these problems. The lab is a world leader in the use of stable isotopes to study metabolic flux and synthetic processes. We use stable isotopes and other approaches to answer basic and applied questions. By using a translational approach, we take basic studies in model organisms and apply them to human clinical trials. We have used a variety of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical (exercise and nutritional) strategies from bench to bedside and back.
Our primary tissue of interest is skeletal muscle with an increasing interest in the brain. By targeting skeletal muscle, we hope to minimize the age-related decline in muscle mass and function that is devastating to maintenance of physical independence and metabolic function. Our increasing interest in the brain was initially driven by the NIH brain initiative, but we are increasingly drawn to the potential for neurodegeneration to be a systemic bioenergetic disorder.