Michael Cooney

Graduate Student

Michael CooneyResearch Interest: There is emerging evidence that dysregulation of the epigenome plays a dominant role in cellular and organismal decline during aging. However it is uncertain what causes this epigenetic dysregulation in the first place. Research form our lab suggests that DNA damage might be a critical and persistent driver of these age-related epigenetic changes, as induction of DNA damage leads to an accelerated aging of the epigenomes of organisms as diverse as yeast and mice. I am researching whether enhanced genome stability delays age-related epigenetic changes and if this improves healthspan or lifespan. To that end, I have identified several novel genes that substantially enhance genome stability. I am current testing if expression of these genes reduces epigenetic alterations following DNA damage, and if expression of these genes in yeast is able to stabilize the epigenome during aging and extend replicative lifespan. These experiments could provide powerful evidence of a connection between the stability of the genome and epigenome during aging.

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