Denis Wirtz and Pei-Hsun Wu Receive Awards to Study Cell Aging

Denis Wirtz, co-founder and core faculty member at INBT, Vice Provost for Research, and Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his team was awarded funding by the National Institute of Aging to investigate nuclear protein lamins role in chronological aging. Nuclear lamin is a structural network inside a cell’s nucleus that provides both mechanical support and regulates certain cell functions such as cell division and DNA replication. Researchers believe changes in nuclear protein lamin and its associated structures inside the nucleus, influence a wide range of age-related characteristics.

The team includes Jeremey Walston and Corrine Joshu at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Karen Bandeen-Roche in Bloomberg School of Public Health, Pei-Hsun Wu in the Whiting School of Engineering, and Jude Phillip at Weil Cornell. Using their previous developments to accurately measure cell morphology, they hope to validate morphological biomarkers of healthy aging and determine how deviations could predict aging-associated diseases such as frailty.

Pei-Hsun Wu received funding for another age-related project from the Johns Hopkins University Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers (OAIC) program. Informally called Pepper Centers to honor the late Senator Claude D. Pepper who helped create them, the centers are part of the National Institute of Aging to study aging and to maintain or restore independence in older persons.

As adults get older, age-related changes in their cells is believed to play a part in chronic disease development and other ailments. Wu’s project will focus on identifying specific cellular characteristics linked to frailty in older adults. Identifying these characteristics can help identifying a patient’s vulnerability to frailty, clarify the cellular characteristics that contribute to frailty, and better manage patient health care needs.

Story by: Gina Wadas