NYU Biologist Rockman to Study How Genetic Variation Contributes to Aging


Scientists have long known that genetic variation contributes to differences in aging among individuals, populations, and species. Less clear are the specific genes that drive the aging process. New York University Biologist Matthew Rockman aims to uncover these genes under a $400,000 New Scholar award from the Ellison Medical Foundation.

An adult male C. elegans worm
An adult male C. elegans worm

Scientists have long known that genetic variation contributes to differences in aging among individuals, populations, and species. Less clear are the specific genes that drive the aging process. New York University Biologist Matthew Rockman aims to uncover these genes under a $400,000 New Scholar award from the Ellison Medical Foundation.

Rockman and his colleagues will study the worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to understand the mechanisms by which genetic differences influence aging. C. elegans is the first animal species whose genome was completely sequenced. It is therefore a model organism for studying genetics. The NYU team will also test alternative models for the evolutionary basis of age-related genetic effects.

In conducting this research, Rockman will examine wild strains of C. elegans, which differ from one another at tens to hundreds of thousands of genetic locations. Many of these genetic differences have effects on the biology of the worms. He and his colleagues will study strains that carry random combinations of genetic variants from the wild worms and will estimate the effect of each variant on age-related traits by averaging across 500

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