Faculty Profile

Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D.,  Ph.D.

Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Developmental & Molecular Biology

Professor, Department of Anatomy & Structural Biology

Professor, Department of Medicine (Hepatology)

Robert and Renée Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Areas of Research: Understanding the molecular basis of malfunctioning of autophagy (cellular quality control system) with age and the contribution of defects on this cellular pathway to neurodegeneration, metabolic disorders and cancer

Professional Interests

Dr. Cuervo is co-director of the Einstein Institute for Aging Research, and a member of the Einstein Liver Research Center and Cancer Center. In 2001 she started her laboratory at Einstein, where she studies the role of protein-degradation in aging and age-related disorders, with emphasis in neurodegeneration and metabolic disorders.

Dr. Cuervo’s group is interested in understanding how altered proteins can be eliminated from the cells and their components recycled. Her group has linked alterations in lysosomal protein degradation (autophagy) with different neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. They have also proven that restoration of normal lysosomal function prevents accumulation of damaged proteins with age, demonstrating this way that removal of these toxic products is possible. Her lab has also pionered studies demonstrating a tight link between autophagy and cellular metabolism. They described how autophagy coordinates glucose and lipid metabolism and how failure of different autophagic pathways with age contribute to important metabolic disorders such as diabetes or obesity.

Dr. Cuervo is considered a leader in the field of protein degradation in relation to biology of aging and has been invited to present her work in numerous national and international institutions, including name lectures as the Robert R. Konh Memorial Lecture, the NIH Director’s, the Roy Walford, the Feodor Lynen, the Margaret Pittman, the IUBMB Award, the David H. Murdoxk, the Gerry Aurbach and the Harvey Society Lecture. She has organized and chaired international conferences on protein degradation and on aging, belongs to the editorial board of scientific journals in this topic, and is currently co-editor-in-chief of Aging Cell.

Dr. Cuervo has served in NIH advisory panels, special emphasis panels, and study sections, the NIA Scientific Council and the NIH Council of Councils and  has been recently elected member of the NIA Board of Scientific Counselors. She has been elected member to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain and has received numerous awards for the pioneerign work of her team such as  the 2005 P. Benson Award in Cell Biology, the 2005/8 Keith Porter Fellow in Cell Biology, the 2006 Nathan Shock Memorial Lecture Award, the 2008 Vincent Cristofalo Rising Start in Aging Award, the 2010 Bennett J. Cohen Award in Aging Biology, the 2012 Marshall S. Horwitz, MD Faculty Prize for Research Excellence and the 2015 Saul Korey Prize in Translational Medicine Science.


Selected Publications

(selected from >150 per review publications)

  1. Cuervo, A.M.*; Stephanis, L.; Freundberg, R.; Lansbury, P.; Sulzer, D. Impaired degradation of mutant alpha-synuclein by chaperone-mediated autophagy. Science305, 1292-1295, 2004
  2. Kaushik, S.; Massey, A.C.; Kiffin, R., Cuervo, A.M*. Role of lysosomal lipid microdomains in the regulation of chaperone-mediated autophagy. EMBO J. 25, 3921-33, 2006
  3. Zhang, C., Cuervo, AM*. Restoration of chaperone-mediated autophagy in aging improves cellular maintenance and organ function. Nat. Med. 14: 959-65, 2008
  4. Singh, R.; Kaushik, S.; Wang, Y.; Xiang, Y.; Novak, I; Komatsu, M.; Tanaka, K.; Cuervo, A.M*.; Czaja, M.J*.  Autophagy regulates lipid metabolism. Nature 458:1131-5, 2009
  5. Martinez-Vicente M, Talloczy Z, Wong E, Tang G, Koga H, de Vries R, Kaushik S, Arias E, Harris S, Sulzer D, Cuervo AM*  Cargo recognition failure is responsible for inefficient autophagy in Huntington’s Disease. Nat. Neurosci. 13:567-76, 2010
  6. Bandyopadhyay U, Shridar S, Kaushik S, Kiffin R, Cuervo AM*, Identification of regulators of chaperone-mediated autophagy. Mol Cell 39: 535-47, 2010.
  7. Koga H., Kaushik S., Macian F. Verkushka, V. Cuervo AM* A photoconvertible fluorescent reporter to track chaperone-mediated autophagy. Nat Comm 2: 386, 2011
  8. Kon, M, Koga, Hl, Kiffin, R., Chapochnick, J. Macian, F, Vartikovski L., Cuervo AM*. Chaperone-mediated autophagy is required for turmor growth. Science TM 3:109ra117, 2011
  9. Wong E, Bejarano E, Hanson HH, Zaarur N, Phillips GR, Sherman MY, Cuervo AM*. Molecular determinants of selective clearance of protein inclusions by autophagy. Nat Comm 3:1240, 2012
  10. Orenstein SJ, Kuo SH, Tasset-Cuevas I, Arias E, Koga H, Fernandez-Carasa I, Cortes, E., Honig, L.S., Dauer, W., Consiglio A, Raya A, Sulzer, D, Cuervo AM. Interplay of LRRK2 with chaperone-mediated autophagy. Nat. Neurosci. 16:394-406, 2013
  11. Anguiano J, Gaerner T, Daas B, Gavathiotis E, Cuervo AM. Chemical modulation of Chaperone-mediated autophagy by novel retinoic acid derivatives. Nat. Chem. Biol. 9:374-82, 2013
  12. Pampliega O, Orhon I, Patel B, Sridhar S, Diaz-Carretero A, Beau I, Codogno P, Satir B, Satir P, Cuervo AM Functional interaction between autophagy and ciliogenesis. Nature 502:194-200, 2013
  13. Bejarano, E, Yuste, A, Patel B, Stout, RJ, Spary, D Cuervo AM. Connexins modulate autophagosome biogenesis. Nat. Cell. Biol. 16:401-14, 2014
  14. Schneider JL, Suh Y, Cuervo AM*.  Deficient chaperone-mediated autophagy in liver leads to metabolic disregulation. Cell Metab. 20:417-432, 2014
  15. Schneider S, Villarroya J, Diaz A, Patel B, Urbanska AM, Thi MM, Villarroya F, Santambrogio L, Cuervo AM*. Loss of hepatic chaperone-mediated autophagy accelerates proteostasis failure in aging. Aging Cell, 14:249-64, 2015
  16. Rui Y-N, Xu Z, Patel B, Chen Z, Chen D, Tito A, David G, Sun Y, Stimming ER, Bellen H, Cuervo AM*, Zhang S*. Huntingtin functions as a scaffold for selective macroautophagy. Nat. Cell. Biol. 17: 262-75, 2015
  17. Park C, Shu Y, Cuervo AM*.Regulated degradation of Chk1 by chaperone-mediated autophagy in response to DNA damage. Nat. Commun. 6:6823 doi: 10.1038/ncomms7823, 2015
  18. Kaushik, S. Cuervo AM*. Degradation of lipid droplet-associated proteins by chaperone-mediated autophagy facilitates lipolysis. Nat. Cell. Biol. 17: 759-70, 2015
  19. Arias E., Koga H, Diaz A, Mocholi E, Patel B, Cuervo AM*. Lysosomal mTORC2/PHLPP1/Akt regulate chaperone-mediated autophagy. Mol. Cell 59, 270-84, 2015
  20. Kaushik, S. Cuervo AM*. AMPK-dependent phosphorylation of lipid droplet protein PLIN2 triggers its degradation by CMA. Autophagy. 12(2):432-438, 2016
  21. Maus M, Cuk M, Patel B, Lian J, Qimet M, Kaufmann U, Yang J, Horvath R, Hornig-Do H-T, Chrzanowska-Lightowlers ZM, Moore KJ, Cuervo AM, Feske S. Store-Operated Ca2+ Entry Controls Induction of Lipolysis and the Transcriptional Reprogramming to Lipid Metabolism.Cell Metab 25: 698-712, 2017
  22. Beckerman P, Karchin JB, Park ASD , Dummer P, Soomro I, Boustany-Kari C, Pullen S Qiu C, Miner JH, Hu C-A, Rohacs T, Inoue K, Shuta I, Saleem M, Palmer M, Cuervo AM, Kopp J, Susztak K. Transgenic Expression of Human APOL1 Risk Variants in Podocytes Induces Kidney Disease in Mice. Nat Med 23: 429-438, 2017 


  1. Cuervo AM. Chaperone-mediated autophagy: Dice’s wild idea about lysosomal selectivity. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol  12:535-41, 2011 (Timeline)
  2. Cuervo AM, Macian F. Autophagy, nutrition and immunology.  Mol Aspects Med, 33: 2-13, 2012
  3. Kaushik S, Cuervo AM. Chaperone-mediated autophagy: a unique way to enter the lysosome world. Trends Cell Biol 22: 407-17, 2012
  4. Schneider JL, Cuervo AM. Liver autophagy: much more than taking out trash. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 11:187-200, 2013
  5. Schneider JL, Cuervo AM. Autophagy and human disease: emerging themes. Curr Opin Genet. Dev. 26C:16-23, 2014
  6. Kennedy, B.K., Berger, S.L., Brunet, A., Campisi, J., Cuervo, A.M., Epel, E.S., Franceschi, C., Lithgow, G.J., Morimoto, R.I., Pessin, J.E., Rando, T.A., Richardson, A., Schadt, E.E., Wyss-Coray, T., and Sierra, F. Geroscience: linking aging to chronic disease. Cell 159: 709-713, 2014
  7. Madrigal-Matute J, Cuervo AM. Regulation of liver Metabolism by autophagy. Gastroenterology 150:328-39, 2015
  8. Kaushik S, Cuervo AM. Proteostasis and aging. Nat Med. 21:1406-15, 2015.
  9. Pampliega, O, Cuervo AM. Autophagy and primary cilia: dual interplay. Curr. Opp. Cell Biol. 39: 1-7, 2016


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More Information About Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo

Developmental and Molecular Biology Page

Cuervo Lab web page

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Research Information

In the News

New York Times interviews Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo about the scientist awarded the Nobel Prize for his discoveries on how cells recycle, known as autophagy.

U.S. News & World Report interviews Drs. Ana Maria Cuervo and Nir Barzilai about their aging research.

More media coverage