Research Group Leader Jim Stewart has been awarded with a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) research grant. In his funded project he works in a unique interdisciplinary collaboration to test if enhanced mitochondrial DNA proofreading will help increasing lifespan or health span in animals.
Mitochondria, the power houses of our cells, play a central role in our energy production. With age they start losing their function, because they accumulate defects in their own genome – the mitochondrial DNA. To avoid this, mitochondria have a proofreading system which detects and repairs DNA mutations.
In his funded project Jim Stewart has formed a unique collaboration with Dennis Lavrov working as evolutionary biologist at Iowa State University, US and Cameron Mackereth studying Protein Structure at University Bordeaux in France. They will study a very uncommon mitochondrial DNA proof-reading enzyme that is only found in one group of corals which also displays a low rate of mitochondrial DNA mutations. This enzyme will be introduced into lab animals to add more protection to the mitochondrial DNA. These animals will then be used for ageing studies. “This will allow us to directly test whether more mitochondrial DNA proofreading would actually affect the ageing process”, explains Stewart.
The Canadian scientist received his master degree and his PhD at the Simon Fraser University in Canada. In 2005 he joined the Division of Metabolic Diseases at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden as a Postdoctoral fellow and moved in 2010 together with the group to the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, Germany. In 2014 he was appointed as a research group leader at this institute.
The Human Frontier Science Program
The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) is an international program of research support, funding frontier research on complex mechanisms of living organisms. It funds only cutting-edge and high-risk projects.
More information about the work of Jim Stewart.