UAMS Wins $5 Million Grant for Aging Study

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a five-year grant of $5.1 million for research on aging.

The scientists are comparing genetic and metabolic characteristics in four species: worms, fruit flies, yeast and mice. They will look for common patterns accompanying longer life spans in these species. Those common patterns would indicate general principles governing longevity – thus providing an understanding of aging mechanisms, and potential means of intervention, which should apply to all animals including humans.

Dr. Robert Shmookler Reis, a professor in the Departments of Geriatrics, Medicine, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, and Pharmacology/Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine, is program director for this interdisciplinary team of scientists.

 Reis explains, “In evolutionary distance, nematodes and fruit flies are as far removed from each other as each is from any mammal, including humans. Thus, any distinctive features found in common among long-lived worms, flies and mice is almost certainly true also of humans who remain healthy the longest. Yeasts are quite a bit more ancient than these multi-cellular, multi-tissue animals, so if a longevity marker also works in yeast, it may well be universal among animals.”

The grant is from the National Institute on Aging of the NIH. The UAMS-CAVHS group was recommended to receive one of the largest NIA grants ever awarded for basic research.

The research team leaders also include Associate Program Director Piotr Zimniak, Joan McEwen, Helen Benes, John Thaden, Craig Cooney.