Areas of Interest
By 2050, the percent of the global population over the age of 65 is expected to double. One major consequence of this demographic shift is an increase in age-associated chronic diseases such as cancer, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease. Although people are living longer, those extra years are often spent in poor health. By researching the primary driver of all these conditions—the aging process itself—there is great potential to increase healthspan, or the number of years spent in good health. One intervention that has been shown to slow the aging process across taxa is dietary restriction (DR). However, the mechanisms through which DR extends lifespan are not completely understood. The Leiser lab has identified one enzyme, flavin-containing monooxygenase 2 (fmo-2), that is necessary for DR to regulate health and longevity in the roundworm C. elegans. Interestingly, fmo-2 induction is not only regulated by changes in food consumption, but also by changes in food perception; the smell of food is sufficient to abrogate DR-mediated fmo-2 induction and DR-mediated longevity. In my research, I aim to discover the mechanism through which sensory perception regulates fmo-2 induction in peripheral tissues to extend lifespan.