Anne Brunet – Understanding and Modeling Aging

brunet-smSager Lecture
“Understanding and Modeling Aging”
Anne Brunet, Stanford University

Friday, July 28, 2017, 8 – 9pm
Lillie Auditorium
Lectures are free and open to the public

INTRODUCER: Antonio Giraldez, Professor of Genetics and Director of Graduate Studies, Yale University; Whitman Center Researcher, MBL

Lecture Abstract:

Age is the greatest risk factor for most diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, metabolic disorders, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. However, our understanding of aging is still rudimentary because aging is an extraordinarily complex process that defies many conventional rules in biology. My lab aims to discover new, fundamental principles of aging regulation that can ultimately be translated to humans. We have broken new ground by pioneering the naturally short-lived African killifish as a new model to study aging and diseases in the context of aging in vertebrates. This new model has allowed us to generate a high throughput platform to not only model diseases by also screen for the impact of genetic pathways and chemical compounds on disease. In addition to developing this fish, my lab is also using C. elegans and mice, as well as cells from mice and humans, to identify genetic and epigenetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of lifespan and understand their mode of action. This approach has already generated new insights on the epigenetic regulation of aging. Our work has the promise to transform our understanding of why aging is at the heart of so many human diseases.

Anne Brunet is the Michele and Timothy Barakett Professor of Genetics at Stanford University. Dr. Brunet obtained her BSc from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France and her PhD from the University of Nice, France. She did her postdoctoral training in Dr. Michael Greenberg’s lab at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Brunet is interested in the mechanisms of aging and longevity, with a particular emphasis on the nervous system. Her lab studies the genetic and epigenetic regulation of aging. She is particularly interested in neural stem cells aging. Another goal of the Brunet lab is to discover new genes and processes that regulate longevity using short-lived systems, the nematode C. elegans and the naturally short-lived African killifish. Dr. Brunet has received several grants from the National Institute on Aging. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters. She has received a number of awards, including the Pfizer/AFAR Innovations in Aging Research Award, an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award, and the Vincent Cristofalo Rising Star Award in Aging Research. She was awarded a Pioneer Award from the NIH Director’s fund, which supports scientists of exceptional creativity.

Ruth SagerAbout the Sager Lecture

Dr. Ruth Sager was chief of cancer genetics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a professor at Harvard Medical School where she was an acknowledged expert on suppressor genes and their relation to breast cancer. Dr. Sager was the author of more than 200 scientific papers on cancer genetics and the existence of DNA outside of cell nuclei, her first field of research, which she pursued through the study of algae. In 1988, Dr. Sager received the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal in phycology. This medal is awarded every three years in recognition of excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae. After switching her field of study to breast cancer in 1972, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and studied the disease for a year at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratory in London, England. Dr. Sager graduated from the University of Chicago. She earned a master’s degree at Rutgers University and a doctorate at Columbia University. Dr. Sager was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. She was a professor at Hunter College until 1975, when she joined Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her cancer research involved the identification of more than 40 possible tumor suppressor genes with implications in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. She also proved “by persistent counterexample, where originality leads,” according to the University of Chicago Magazine article, published in 1994 when she was named alumna of the year. Dr. Sager died of cancer in March, 1997, at the age of 79.