Aging is one of the greatest mysteries in biology, and arguably its next frontier. Old age is the main risk factor for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. So understanding aging could provide new avenues to understand and counter many diseases at once. Yet our understanding of aging is still rudimentary because aging is an extraordinarily complex process that defies many conventional rules in biology.
There are still many open questions about aging. The ones that fascinate us the most are: How do external stimuli exert long-lasting effects on aging? Are the mechanisms of aging the same in differentiated cells and regenerative stem cells? Can aging features be reversed? Is the lifespan of an individual affected by other individuals? How have vastly different lifespans evolved in nature? Could understanding 'suspended animation' teach us something new about aging?
Aging is a very complex phenotype. To tackle the complexity of aging, we use a unique multi-organismal approach. To identify new genes and new concepts regulating aging, we use short-lived organisms (C. elegans and the African killifish) because of their high-throughput abilities. Importantly, we have been pioneering the naturally short-lived African killifish as new vertebrate model to study aging and suspended animation. To translate our findings to mammals and identify specific principles of mammalian longevity, we use mice and cells from humans, focusing on regenerative stem cells.