Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that a $1,998,703 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been awarded to the University of Rochester to examine the aging process across a series of rodent species, with the hopes of identifying treatments for improving the aging process in humans. Specifically, the grant comes from HHS's National Institute on Aging division, to fund a five-year effort that will be undertaken in collaboration with Harvard University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Similar to the University of Rochester naked mole rat study that looked which chemicals could prevent cancer in rodents, this study will also examine the mechanisms that help these species live longer and resist cancer. Vera Gorbunova, Professor of Biology at University Rochester, and principal investigator of the original naked mole rat study, will lead this effort.
"The University of Rochester is a hub for nationally-recognized medical research and this grant will only add to that reputation," said Schumer. "The funding will advance the University of Rochester's groundbreaking research in the biomedical field, keep our nation's top scientists flocking to the Rochester area, and most importantly, it may yield insights into the aging process and cancer that could lead to newfound medical treatments for humans."
"The University of Rochester is home to world-class medical research," said Gillibrand "When we invest in new research of age related diseases, we can unlock discoveries for new treatments and help save more lives, attract even more bright minds to Rochester, and support new economic growth."
Gorbunova will lead a five-year effort with colleagues at Harvard University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to better understand the reasons for the different life spans among a variety of rodent species. The ultimate objective of the research project is to develop treatments for improving the aging process in people. Mammalian species differ dramatically in their aging rates, but mechanisms responsible for these differences are unknown. This project will identify mechanisms responsible for more efficient DNA repair and higher cancer resistance in long-lived mammals. This knowledge will enable the development of interventions to extend the human lifespan and delay the onset of age-related diseases.