Age is the major risk factor for a range of common diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration.
Improvements in healthcare over the last 100 years have resulted in dramatic increases in life expectancy worldwide. This has resulted in a global shift in demographics with more people living to increasingly older ages. This presents society with new challenges because as the number of older people in the population increases so does the incidences of age-related disease.
The main aim of our research is to understand the fundamental biological processes that underlie ageing. Our goal is to then target those processes therapeutically to prevent age-related disease thereby increasing the quality of life for older people.
Drosophila as a model for ageing studies
Our laboratory uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system to study the biology of ageing. Drosophila have been used in biological and biomedical research for over 100 years contributing to six Nobel prizes in Physiology and Medicine to date. Drosophila is highly amenable to genetic manipulation so we can modulate gene function and analyse the effects on ageing phenotypes. Many age-related phenotypes are observed in ageing flies including loss of mobility, metabolic dysfunction, neurodegeneration and immunosenescence. Drosophila therefore offers an ideal organismal perform to perform mechanistic studies into the biological pathways that govern ageing and age-related health.
Current key research topics of interest in the laboratory are aimed at:
Understanding the regulatory networks that control the activity of key proteins within the insulin signalling pathway.
Exploring the role of energy balance and metabolism in regulating lifespan.
Developing pharmacological interventions that extend lifespan and improve life-long health.
Our research is currently funded by The Royal Society and the BBSRC.