Omer Yilmaz
Omer Yilmaz - MD, PhD
AFAR Research Grants for Junior Faculty - 2015
Omer Yilmaz

Omer Yilmaz - MD, PhD

Assistant Professor - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts, United States


AFAR Research Grants for Junior Faculty - 2015

Dietary and epigenetic control of the intestinal stem cell niche in aging

The adult mammalian intestine is a rapidly renewing organ that is maintained by stem cells. In order to function properly, these intestinal stem cells often require signals from their cellular neighborhood, or “niche,” which consists of Paneth cells.

With age, the intestine undergoes a progressive loss of tissue function that includes a reduced ability to regenerate after injury. Recent data indicate that much of the age-related decline in intestinal repair is due to aging of the Paneth cell niche. Data also indicates that calorie restriction—an intervention meant to extend lifespan—enhances the function of aged Paneth cells. Moreover, the enhanced state of the Paneth cells brought on by calorie restriction persists upon reversion to a normal diet.

Dr. Yilmaz’s lab will now investigate how calorie restriction establishes cellular memory in Paneth cells, and how this translates into enhanced intestinal stem cell function. The group’s goal is to better understand how diverse diets, such as calorie restriction and high-fat diets, influence the regeneration, aging, and development of cancer in the intestine. By better understanding how intestinal stem cells adapt to diverse diets, Dr. Yilmaz hopes to identify and develop new strategies that reverse the decline in the function of old intestinal stem cells and reduce the growth of cancers involving the intestinal tract.

View all grantees for AFAR Research Grants for Junior Faculty in 2015

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