August 22, 2017—BRONX, NY—Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have been awarded a $3 million grant from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research to continue a series of studies on longevity and age-related diseases.
Nir Barzilai, M.D.Aging is the major risk factor for most adult onset diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. At the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging Research at Einstein, scientists are working to discover genetic and biological mechanisms that could protect against human aging and age-related diseases.
“We want to develop novel preventative and therapeutic interventions targeting biological aging in humans,” says Nir Barzilai, M.D., co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center. He is also director of Einstein’s Institute for Aging Research, the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair in Aging Research, and professor of medicine and of genetics at Einstein. “The generous support of the Glenn Foundation allows us to build on our existing studies as we work to better understand the aging process so we can improve human health.”
Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D. (left), Jan Vijg, Ph.D.With the support of the initial award from the Glenn Foundation in 2012, Einstein researchers made discoveries involving longevity genes in centenarians, and tested drugs including resveratrol and metformin to evaluate their impact on the aging process. In the course of this work, the researchers also developed a new way to analyze immune cells in centenarians. They also found that autophagy—a process cells use to get rid of unwanted material—seems to be better maintained in members of families with a history of extraordinary longevity.
The new three-year grant will fund further investigations on drugs that target aging, studies on genetic mutations and other genomic factors relevant to longevity and efforts to collect and share clinical and biological data with researchers and gerontologists around the world. One planned project will examine the effect of acarbose (a drug commonly used to treat diabetes that extends the lifespan of mice) on human gene expression and the human microbiome (the microbes that live in and on us and that may influence longevity).
The center’s other co-directors are Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert and Renée Belfer Chair for the Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases, and professor of developmental and molecular biology, of anatomy and structural biology, and of medicine at Einstein, and Jan Vijg, Ph.D., the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics, and professor and chair of genetics and of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Einstein.