What We Do
The rapid graying of populations and the attendant increase in age related diseases has emerged as a major global public health issue. Biological aging is generally attributed to loss of robustness in biological systems, and is accompanied by increased incidence of age–associated chronic diseases, diminishing quality of life and places burden on the healthcare system. This situation has challenged the science and the health practitioner communities to come up with strategies to decipher the biology that drives aging in order to find ways to both delay aging and support healthy aging. Popular approaches to exploring the aging mechanism and pathways involved in aging include gene scavenging, either through a candidate gene approach or unbiased screening, such as GWAS. Genetic information from these studies on the DNA level has paved the way for the understanding of the aging mechanism, but only scratches the surface in terms of understanding other biological forces behind aging, such as environmental effects, gene expression, translation and regulation, and the interaction between these components. This observation led to screening of whole-genome utilizing high-throughput technology for genes associated with longevity.
Main themes of research
In the last couple of years my focus has shifted to a new and challenging field involving the role of epigenetics in aging and longevity. Conducting a genome-wide cytosine methylation (HELPtag assay) screening, has proven that there are epigenetic differences between centenarian and control sample, and that extremely old people share a common pattern of altered methylation that distinguishes them from young unrelated controls. Using Sequenom’s MassARRAY technology I validated the candidate methylated loci results from the whole genome methylation scan, and demonstrated expression differences of those candidates in normal aged versus long-lived individuals. The combination of basic genetics, genomics, epigenomic and bio-informatics tools to perform novel and state-of-the-art analyses will enhance our understanding of the role of genetics/genomics and epigenetics/epigenomics in disease, aging, and longevity.
Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)
Whole genome methylation scan