At the Jackson Laboratory

Other Aging Research at The Jackson Laboratory

Beyond the Shock Center and work supported by the Ellison Medical Foundation, other Jackson Laboratory investigators are also performing aging research in areas ranging from stem cells to DNA damage.


Chengkai Dai
Assistant Professor, The Jackson Laboratory

Our laboratory focuses on understanding the emerging roles of the heat-shock or stress response in human cancers and longevity. The stress response is an evolutionarily highly conserved adaptive mechanism that enhances cell survival in the face of a large variety of stressful insults from without and from within. In mammals, the master transcriptional regulator of this systemic cellular response is heat shock factor 1, HSF1, a pleiotropic molecule that coordinates a network of cellular pathways to fight stresses. One of the major functions of this stress response is to maintain proteome homeostasis under stressful conditions.

David Harrison
Professor, The Jackson Laboratory

The Harrison research group has two focus areas. Under “Gerontology: Mechanisms of Aging” we investigate aging in mouse models, focusing on processes that have the potential to retard aging and prolong health. For example, one line of research investigates mutations that reduce IGF-1 and insulin function. Such mutations can increase life span and delay certain aspects of aging, especially development of cancer. Now we are developing models that combine multiple mutations. We will use these models to test effects of these mutations on physiological and molecular pathways critical to aging processes.

Under “Hematology: Stem Cells” our focus is on hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and other adult stem cells, which constantly proliferate and differentiate to maintain tissue functions throughout life. If aging exhausts the function of adult stem cells, the balance between damage and repair is disrupted and tissue functions become defective. Our group has found that genetic mechanisms protect hematopoietic stem cells from exhaustion in some mouse strains. Now our focus is to define the specific mechanisms. Our long-term goal is to promote healthful aging in humans, either by delaying normal aging processes or by minimizing or eliminating diseases of aging.