The roundworm (C. elegans) is one of the animal models that will be used to study aging in a signature course entitled “Comparative and Experimental Approaches to Aging Biology Research” to be held at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, June 19 to July 3. PHOTO COURTESY OF MDIBL

Bio Lab gets grant to support aging research course

BAR HARBOR — A new course on aging that will draw internationally renowned scientists to The MDI Biological Laboratory will examine fundamental questions about our ability to repair and regenerate tissue as we age. “Comparative and Experimental Approaches to Aging Biology Research” will be held from June 19 to July 3.

The course will be supported by a $20,000 grant from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research. The funds will be used to help offset the cost of tuition for the intensive two-week research training course.

The course will emphasize molecular approaches to aging biology research using comparative approaches and models. Four animal models will be studied: roundworms (C. elegans), fruit flies, mice and African turquoise killifish.

The use of multiple animal models reflects the MDI Biological Laboratory’s unique approach to the study of aging and regenerative biology. Rather than studying aging in isolated cells or in a single animal model, the institution’s scientists use diverse animal models ranging from roundworms to mice. This approach provides insight into evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of aging, as well as differences between animal models and humans that potentially can be exploited to improve human health and extend healthy lifespan.

“We believe the study of molecular pathways in diverse animals that share many of their genes with humans offers valuable insight into the degenerative diseases of aging such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s,” said Kevin Strange, president of the laboratory. “We are grateful for the support of the Glenn Foundation, which shares our mission of translating aging biology research into treatments.”

The course is unique in offering both hypothesis-driven research using the latest experimental techniques and training in the use of software for the analysis of large datasets. In addition, the interaction between graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early stage independent investigators and world-renowned scientists in the field of aging biology creates opportunities for professional development and networking.

“We see the collaboration fostered by this course serving as a catalyst for discovery,” said Assistant Professor Aric Rogers, course director. “The study of the fundamental molecular processes of aging is one of the most exciting areas of inquiry in biology today, but its advancement depends upon the sharing of information and techniques.”

Plans call for the course, which is being held for the first time this summer, to be repeated on a biennial basis. The grant in support of the aging biology course is the first awarded to the MDI Biological Laboratory from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research. The course also is being supported by INBRE and COBRE grants awarded to the laboratory by the National Institutes of Health.

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