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Inside AFAR

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Dec 8
4:53 pm

Grantee Spotlight Interview: Rozalyn Anderson 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, Rozalyn Anderson, PhD, 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. 

Rozalyn Anderson, PhD

Assistant Professor,
University of Wisconsin

2016 Glenn/AFAR Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Award



What inspired you to get into aging research?

My first experiments in aging research investigated the role of metabolism in regulating the pace of aging.  I was completely taken by the idea that energy sensing and energetics could have such a profound impact on something so complex. I wanted to understand how aging creates a permissive environment for dysfunction, disorder, and disease, and how metabolism could change that process. To solve that would not only answer a major question in fundamental biology but also potentially provide a brand new perspective human aging and health care.

How will AFAR’s support further your research at this point in your career?

AFAR is widely recognized as one of the leading agencies providing support for Aging Research. AFAR’s commitment to innovative research and its unparalleled efforts to promote aging research in the public arena have made a tremendous impact on the field. This award will allow my research team to expand our investigation of brain metabolism to include mechanistic studies using novel aging models. In defining how metabolism impinges on neuronal function we hope to identify new leads for treatment and prevention of age-related neurological disorders and diseases.

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

Much of the work on age-related neurological diseases and disorders has focused on animal models that reproduce specific disease pathologies.  We are taking a slightly different approach by looking at the changes in brain metabolism that occur naturally with age, changes that we believe create vulnerability for a range of pathologies by compromising cellular function. This work has the potential to open up new strategies by targeting brain aging itself rather than individual disease processes, bringing the promise of new risk indicators and treatments for clinical application.

In three sentences, how would you describe your research?

My work is focused on figuring out what happens during aging to create disease vulnerability. We know that aging causes a change in how cells and tissues store and use energy, and we know that problems in energy handling occur in many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. We are finding ways to tap into cellular energy pathways as a means to slow aging in the brain and to find new ways to prevent and treat age-related neurological conditions.