Why study Healthspan pharmacology?

“Healthspan” is a holistic measure of an organism’s state of health, encompassing¬†not only lifespan, but also other “health” indicating factors such as reproductive fitness and locomotor activity. Thus, healthspan is a combined measure of an organism’s ability to survive and to function. Oftentimes, studies aim to solely extend an organism’s lifespan, without considering other physiological parameters that may be compensated. For example, it is common to see lifespan extension resulting in a decrease in reproductive output. Thus, we aim to study agents that can extend lifespan without harmful side effects. Our ultimate goal is to add healthy, functional years to human life!

Why work with Drosophila melanogaster?

 

Why work with the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)?
The fruit fly is an established model system to study aging
We share about 75% of our disease genes with fruit flies
50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian homologs
Fruit flies have been used to study and identify drug targets for several human diseases
Fruit flies mimic many aspects of human physiology
Over the past 10 years, using fruit flies as as our model system, we have developed an algorithm and a number of bioassays to identify compounds that increased lifespan as well as improve healthspan.

Why work with plants and botanical extracts?
While some studies have shown that plants and botanical extracts such as Rhodiola rosea and Rosa demascena may impact age-related diseases, there are large gaps in the human knowledge about the mechanisms through which these natural products modulate aging. Our research hopes to bridge that gap in knowledge.