Why Do We Age?
We all experience aging, from conception until death.Yet, we are just beginning to understand why we age.
Aging & Fruit Flies
To try and help answer this question my research relies upon the widely used model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, or more commonly known as the fruit fly. As we cannot study humans from birth until death, fruit flies provide a great alternative, especially as they live only .0003% the length of humans!
Some of the major benefits of using fruit flies:
Why Is My Research Important?
My research focuses on adaptation. Specifically, how an organism loses the ability to cope with various forms of cellular stress. Our bodies are constantly inundated with various types of oxidative stress, from environmental sources such as harmful UV rays and air pollution to endogenous sources, many of which result as a natural byproduct of metabolism. However, we have evolved various cellular defenses that protect our cells (specifically our proteins) from damage.
But with age, we lose the precise and rapid regulation and increase of these various cellular defenses. As a result, our cells are no longer able to cope with the increased and chronic oxidative insults and we lose our protein quality control mechanism. In turn, loss of our ability to adapt may accelerate the aging process and contribute to various age-related diseases.
Fortunately, many of the same cellular defense pathways found in humans, have been identified in fruit-flies, making it an exceptional candidate to explore the changes in adaptation during the lifespan.
What Your Support Will Help Us Accomplish
Your support will help us to measure EVERY GENE in young and old male and female fruit flies in a process called RNA sequencing. Not only will we be able to detect baseline changes between young and old flies, but we will also assess what genes are involved in the adaptive response and how this pathway changes with age and between the sexes.
Flies will be aged to either 3 days or 60 days and subsequently given either no hydrogen peroxide or a very small adaptive amount. Afterwards, flies will be collected and processed for the RNA sequencing experiment.
Many of the genes involved in the stress response pathway in fruit flies are also found in us. By understanding how they change with age in the fruit fly, might help us to better understand how they change during our aging process.
Why We Need Your Help
For all the great advances and improvements basic research has given to our lives, there is still very much that needs to be studied, especially in the area of aging.
Research is expensive, but for every dollar of support you will help us gain data we can use for many years! That means we can use this information to come up with new experiments, test new hypotheses, and make new discoveries! Your support will provide the foundation for projects for future graduate students, an investment not only in the present, but future generations of Trojans!