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Welcome to the The Ja Lab

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Research Focus

Over a century of research on the fruit fly has resulted in profound discoveries in basic cellular processes, and has enabled the use of Drosophila as a model for human disease and drug discovery.  Our laboratory uses diverse tools in chemistry and biology to dissect genetic pathways that are involved in aging, behavior, and disease.  We are currently involved in several projects including:

  1. Interactions of symbiotic microorganisms with Drosophila

    The presence of bacteria during fly lifespan can promote longevity.  We are establishing the molecular relationships between the fly microbiome, nutrition, and host health and aging.  Projects include phylogenetic and genomic studies, analyses of host and bacterial gene expression, and genetic manipulation of candidate host mechanisms for modulating the gut microbiota.
  2. Genetic pathways involved with aging and nutrition

    We have identified candidate genes that modify lifespan in response to nutrition, mimicking the effects of dietary restriction.  The mechanistic analysis of these genetic pathways includes application of large-scale methods (metabolomics, lipidomics) and gene expression studies on Drosophila mutants.  We are also investigating small molecule-modulators of mitochondrial function in cell culture models of aging.
  3. Drosophila adult feeding behavior

    Because of the lack of precise tools for measuring fly food consumption, the analysis of hunger, satiety, and the timing of meals has been neglected, despite the possible role played by prandial habits in obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes.  We are 1) developing simple tools for measuring short- and long-term food consumption in flies and 2) characterizing genetic mutants with abnormal feeding behavior.  This work will provide a better understanding of the central mechanisms that underlie appetite and feeding behavior at the genetic and neuronal levels.




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