Glenn Gerhard, MD, Lewiz Katz School of Medicine at Temple University; and Sudhir Kumar, PhD, Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine, Temple University
Competition Sponsor: National Academy of Medicine
The central tenet to our idea is that in order to extend the human healthspan, the biological mechanisms that specify maximum lifespan must be understood upon which interventions may then be developed. However, almost all available data is derived from short-lived model organisms. We therefore hypothesize that the genome sequences of species whose maximum life spans are 100 years or more will share longevity-related molecular mechanisms that will serve as targets for the development of interventions into healthspan. We propose the “Centenarian Species Genomes Project” to identify molecular mechanisms of extreme longevity because no systematic and comprehensive evolutionarily based genomic analysis of species with extreme longevity has yet been conducted. The convergence of improvements in sequencing technology, and computational approaches make the proposed project feasible with existing technology. The project design will be to 1) conduct association analyses of relative evolutionary rates and longevities of available centenarian and non-centenarian species genome sequences and 2) assemble draft genome assemblies of two unsequenced centenarian species, the American lobster (100 year maximum longevity) and Ocean quahog clam (>500 year maximum longevity). The Catalyst Award phase represents the modest pilot phase of a much larger project that will serve to establish protocols and procedures so that they can be easily scaled to generate and analyze data from the remaining centenarian species in the Accelerator phase. We believe this will be a prerequisite for developing interventions that extend healthspan through understanding lifespan.
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