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Tulane Center for Aging - COBRE Grant - Current Projects

Dr. Malwina Czarny-Ratajczak investigates the contribution of dysfuntional telomeres to primary osteoarthritis. Her project is focused on the molecular consequences of accelerated telomere shortening on transcriptome and proteome of patients with primary osteoarthritis. She studies how these changes affect tissue homeostasis of the knee joint and lead to premature cartilage aging. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in pathogenesis of primary osteoarthritis will help to develop new methods of prevention and treatment for this disorder, which is the leading cause of pain and chronic disability in the aging population.

Dr. Kristin S. Miller studies how soft tissues grow and remodel. The study of tissue growth and remodeling can identify the key mechanisms of age-related changes and healing deficiencies in soft tissues. The long-term goal of her work is to alter the clinical paradigm for age-related changes in tendons by identifying the significant mechanisms of tendon dynamics before and after injury. Accomplishing this will permit the rational design of clinical intervention strategies to impede tendon degeneration and improve healing.

Dr. Mimi Sammarco investigates the failed regeneration of soft tissue and bone in the context of aging. Dr. Sammarco uses the mouse digit regeneration model to gain a more thorough understanding of how the role of oxygen and cellular metabolism affect regeneration in an aged model in order to delineate between regeneration-competent and incompetent tissue environments.  Using aging as a model to better understand regeneration will enable us to shed light on the regenerative process and to develop ways to address fracture healing and poor wound closure in the aged population.

Dr. Hong Liu studies the underlying causes of aneuploidy-driven processes and diseases, such as aging and cancer. Aneuploidy contributes to aging and the development of cancer. It is usually derived from chromosome missegregation during mitosis. Therefore, a better understanding of the mechanisms that control chromosome segregation would help decipher the causes of aneuploidy and as well as its associated aging and cancer. Using a combination of biochemical, cell-biological and genetic tools, Dr. Liu is currently studying 1) the regulation of sister-chromatid cohesion that is critical for proper chromosome segregation, 2) how aberrantly-regulated sister-chromatid cohesion results in aneuploidy, and 3) how aneuploidy contributes to cell senescence, a good in vitro system to uncover the mechanisms of aging.

Dr. Namita Rout is studying the association between chronic systemic inflammation of aging or “inflammaging” and intestinal barrier functions utilizing the nonhuman primate model of rhesus macaques. Inflammaging phenotype is a highly significant risk factor for both morbidity and mortality in the elderly people. Dr. Rout’s research focuses on identifying immune mechanisms underlying the similarities between inflammaging and the unresolved chronic inflammation of antiretroviral drug treated HIV infection, which contributes to the acceleration of comorbidities and frailty in HIV-patients. Understanding the role of intestinal immune cell subsets in the disruption of healthy mucosal barrier function and persistent inflammation will help develop novel therapeutic interventions to target inflammation in aging individuals.