David GemsInstitute of Healthy Ageing, University College London, London, UK F1000 Faculty Member (since 08 October 2007)
Reader in the Biology of Ageing
Assistant Director of the Institute of Healthy Ageing, University College London
1980-1983: Undergraduate studies, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, BSc Biochemistry
1987-1990: Doctoral Research, Institute of Genetics, University of Glasgow. Thesis: Development and Transformation of Aspergillus nidulans. Supervisor: AJ Clutterbuck
1991-1993: Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biology, Imperial College, University of London, in the lab of Prof RM Maizels. Project: Identification and characterisation of genes expressed by infective larvae of the ascarid nematode parasite Toxocara canis
1993-1996: Postdoctoral fellow, Molecular Biology Program, University of Missouri, USA in the lab of Prof DL Riddle. Projects: Determinants of life span and aging in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans: effects of reproduction on life span; phenotypic analysis of daf-2 mutants; sexual dimorphism in life span
1997-2004: Royal Society Research Fellow, Department of Biology, University College London. Project: Determinants of life span in Caenorhabditis elegans
While developmental genetics has been an area of intensive study for many years, investigation of the role of genes in determining longevity and ageing only recently began. An ideal model organism in which to study ageing is the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This species has well-developed genetics, its 97,000,000 base pair genome is fully sequenced, and its life span is a mere 2-3 weeks. Most importantly, numerous mutations have been identified in C. elegans which alter the rate of ageing, with some mutants living more than five times as long as wild-type worms. It is hoped that by understanding ageing in a simple animal like C. elegans we will be able to unravel the mystery of human ageing, which increases risk of a wide range of diseases, from cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, to Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
A major focus of current work in this laboratory is understanding the genes and biochemical processes by which reduced insulin/IGF-1 signaling and dietary restriction increase lifespan. Other interests include sex differences in the biology of ageing, evolutionary conservation of mechanisms of ageing, and bioethical implications of ageing research.
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F1000 Biology Reports 2010 2:(76) (21 Oct 2010)
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