Inside AFAR
Inside AFAR

Insights, Views, and Interviews

Apr 27
10:14 am

Grantee Spotlight Interview: Nathalie Saurat View MoreBACK

AFAR’s grant programs in the biology of aging are central to our mission to support and advance healthy aging through biomedical research. At leading institutions nationwide, our grantees hard work, ingenuity, and leadership are advancing cutting-edge research that will help us all live healthier, longer. AFAR grantees are making this the age of aging better.

In this Grantee Spotlight interview, Nathalie Saurat, Ph.D., shares what inspired her to enter the field of aging research and what impact she hopes her research will make thanks to AFAR’s support.

Nathalie Saurat, Ph.D.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowship in Aging Research

What inspired you to pursue aging research?

I liked the idea that something we have considered as an inevitable part of life is actually a regulated and coordinated biological process that can be researched and understood. I also think that targeting the biology of aging has huge potential translationally, especially when it comes to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s where we are in desperate need of new treatments.

In your view, what does AFAR mean to the field, and what does it mean, for you, to receive an AFAR grant now?

Many scientists who work on aging study one signaling pathways or organ (including me). I think it is very important to have AFAR to bring these different applications of aging research together to share information and approaches. Personally, this fellowship comes at a perfect time for me as it provides an introduction to other members of the aging field and provides support as I write and apply for a K99 grant to continue my work in translational aging. 

What’s exciting about your research’s potential impact?

My research aims to identify regulators of age in human neurons. This is exciting for a number of reasons: firstly, neurons are a unique cell population because they don’t divide so the cells you are born with must survive and function for your entire life. In addition, age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, so understanding what triggers it may result in the identification of new drug targets.

In three sentences, how would you describe your research to one of your grandparents?

I am trying to understand what changes in brain cells as we age and how this increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. To do this I use stem cells to remake the part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease in a petri dish. This allows me to compare the severity and progression of Alzheimer’s disease in old and young cells.