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The Gerontology Research Collaborative (GRC) is a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego and other institutions in the area (e.g., Sanford Burnham Prebys, Salk, SDSU) who are doing work in gerontology and who wish to exchange ideas for collaborations, create working groups surrounding research themes (e.g., physical activity, biomarkers of aging, disparities, cognition, epidemiology, technology), and to host events for the broader San Diego region. We intend to be as inclusive as possible, bringing together researchers with a variety of backgrounds including basic science, translational research, clinical practice, mental health, public health, and related disciplines. 

As a part of this group, we hold a monthly GRC seminar series to highlight local gerontology research.  Formats vary from seminars by local faculty, short talks from early–stage investigators (postdocs, fellows and students), and invited presentations by leading gerontologists.  We regularly distribute our newsletter informing our community about research opportunities, publications and local events. Career development and training pertaining to gerontology research will also be provided as our group develops. 
Subscribe at: gero@ucsd.edu

The next GRC meeting will be on Thursday, September 10, at 4:00 pm.*

Topic:  "Mitochondrial stress signaling in immunity, disease, and aging"

Presented by: 

Gerald S. Shadel, Ph.D.

Audrey Geisel Chair in Biomedical Science
Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Salk Institute for Biological Studies

 

Description: 
Mitochondria are multi-faceted organelles that function at the nexus of energy metabolism, oxidative stress, and cell death signaling. Consequently, circumstances (genetics, environmental factors, age) that result in mitochondrial dysfunction disrupt a multitude of cellular processes that can cause human disease pathology and influence human health. I will discuss our latest interrogations of mitochondria-to-nucleus stress signaling pathways, including novel roles for mtDNA in innate immunity and the duality of mitochondrial ROS in aging and longevity. I will also introduce the new San Diego-Nathan Shock Center (SD-NSC) of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. 

About Gerald S. Shadel, Ph.D.: 
Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology Lab, Salk Institute for Biological Studies,
the Audrey Geisel Chair in Biomedical Science, and the Director of the San Diego Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging. 
The studies in Dr. Shadel's laboratory have as their basis basic research into the mechanism of mitochondrial gene expression (i.e. mtDNA transcription, translation, RNA processing and replication/repair), where he has made seminal contributions for >20 years using yeast, mammalian cell culture, and mouse models. Following this path has also led him into novel ways that mitochondria contribute to disease, aging and the immune system, which are the current major foci of his lab. 

*In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have moved Gerontology Research collaborative Series to an entirely virtual webinar format. Please contact gero@ucsd.edu for log-in information. 


Past presentations 

We were fortunate to have hosted the following speakers at the GRC series:

May 14, 2020
Topic: “UC San Diego Dissemination and Implementation Science Center (DISC): Introduction and Opportunities” 
Presented by:
Nicole Stadnick, PhD MPH, Department of Psychiatry
Lauren Brookman-Frazee, PhD, Department of Psychiatry
Greg Aarons, PhD, Department of Psychiatry
Borsika Rabin, PhD PharmD MPH, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health

Description: This presentation by the DISC Executive Leadership Team provided the background and overview of the newly established UC San Diego Dissemination and Implementation Science Center (UC San Diego DISC). A brief overview of the promise of D&I Science was provided as well as examples of how D&I Science may contribute to Gerontology research projects. Services and opportunities through the UC San Diego DISC were reviewed and collaboration opportunities discussed. 


March 12, 2020
Topic: "Displacement: The New Public Health Challenge facing Older Persons”
Presented by:

Dr. Tala Al-Rousan, physician and epidemiologist, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Medicine at UCSD

Description: Dr. Al-Rousan discussed forced migration as a social determinant of health in older adults highlighting the research imperative and initiatives particularly on cognitive function of older migrants in the US and internationally.


February 13, 2020
Topic: “Detecting preclinical mobility decline via portable, scalable mobility assessments”  
Presented by:

Sarah Graham, PhD, Stein Institute for Research on Aging, Department of Psychiatry, UCSD

Description: Aging is intrinsically associated with declines in physical endurance, muscle strength, balance control, and resulting mobility. Standard-of-care physical function assessments like walking speed and the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) suffer from major limitations, including floor and ceiling effects, observational or subjective scoring, and quantifying physical function on a gross level. Scores from these assessments are appropriate for detecting significant impairment, but not incipient or “preclinical” decline, and are poor predictors of real-world function for higher-functioning adults. Instrumented and graded tests can augment clinical assessments by enabling precise and granular measures that better characterize a range of physical capacities and enable detection of preclinical decline. However, to be useful for clinicians or clinical researchers, these measures need to be available outside of a laboratory and have meaning related to an individual’s risk for loss of independence. Dr. Graham introduced xamples of technology for sensitive, user-friendly assessments of mobility for older adults that have the potential to increase the use and value of sensitive physical function measures in clinical and research environments.

Topic: “Translating models of aging into therapies for Alzheimer’s disease" 
Presented by:

Antonio Currais, PhD, Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute

Description: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than five million people in the US, a number that is expected to triple by 2050 due to the rapidly aging population. However, there are no disease-modifying therapies for AD. As such, there is an urgent need to understand the primary mechanisms driving the disease and to identify new drug targets based upon this information. Age is by far the greatest risk factor for AD and related dementias. Using a set of compounds that were specifically developed to target stresses associated with the aging brain, we have been identifying unique molecular pathways that are neuroprotective by preventing the pathological contribution of the aging process to AD. The implications of our findings to the fields of aging and AD were discussed.



January 9, 2020
Topic: Biomarkers of Aging: A Critical Review”  
Presented by:

Dr. Steven Cummings, Executive Director of the San Francisco Coordinating Center (SFCC), Professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Description: Dr. Cummings is internationally renowned expert in research on aging and osteoporosis. He and colleagues at the SFCC led the large clinical trials that resulted in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and widespread use of most of the treatments used for osteoporosis, including Fosamax® (alendronate), Prolia® (raloxifene) and Evista ® (raloxifene), as well as the studies that first established the value of bone density and risk factors for hip fractures that are widely used in clinical practice. He is the Principal Investigator of the Longevity Consortium that aligns experts on the epidemiology of aging, geneticists, centenarians, and biology of aging in mice and other species to find the genetic variants and molecules in blood that promote healthy longevity in humans. Dr Cummings leads the largest studies of the biological basis of human aging. He designed and oversees the Study of Muscle, Mobility and Aging (SOMMA), the first study to use biopsies of muscle and fat with advanced magnetic resonance imaging to identify the factors in human cells that promote strength, endurance, and independence in older adults. We were fortunate to have Dr. Cummings sharing his experiences at the GRC.



December 12, 2019
Topic: “Beyond Sarcopenia”  
Presented by:

Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD is a Professor of Internal Medicine and Translational Science and a Director of the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Description: Sarcopenia, defined by low muscle mass and/or impaired muscle function, has served as the conceptual basis for interventions to improve mobility function in older adults.  Interventions targeting muscle have met with some success.  At this presentation, Dr. Kritchevsky described a broader way of thinking about mobility which provides a rationale for new intervention strategies. He also shared information about the RCCN and the NIA Translational Geroscience Network during his presentation.



November 14, 2019
Topic: “Sleep and Population Health: Implications for an Aging Society” 
Presented by:

Christopher N. Kaufmann, PhD MHS, Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Department of Medicine

Description: Sleep quantity and quality is linked to the physical, mental, and cognitive domains of health, and changes as individuals grow older. In this presentation, Dr. Kaufmann presented on the role that sleep plays in the aging process. He discussed ways in which sleep changes across the life course, how sleep disturbances impact health outcomes in later life, and the public health need to address sleep disturbances through safe and effective treatments among the growing population of older adults.