Research in the Mair Lab
The Mair lab’s research studies the basic biology of the aging process, driven by the central question: Why are we more likely to get chronic diseases when we are old than when we are young? What goes wrong in cells and tissues to increase overall disease risk, and is this decline inevitable, or can we reverse it to bring healthy years to the elderly?
Aging is a universal trait that is observed across the evolutionary spectrum. From a public health perspective, aging is also the critical risk factor for a variety of human pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases, many forms of cancer and metabolic disease. Our lab is interested in understanding the molecular pathways underpinning the aging process, with the goal of using this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic strategies to treat age-onset disorders.
In particular, we study the mechanisms by which animals can modulate the rate at which they age in response to changes in nutrition and the environment. The profound ability to slow aging when energy availability is low is seen in organisms ranging from yeast to primates and is coupled to a striking protection against a suite of age-related pathologies. By elucidating the genetic and molecular pathways that dictate this response, we aim to recapitulate the positive effects of dietary restriction on lifespan and health without the need for changes in dietary intake and its associated detrimental side effects.
William Mair completed his B.Sc. in Genetics and Ph.D. in Biology at University College London, UK. He moved to San Diego to carry out his postdoctoral training at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, before joining Harvard as an Assistant Professor in November 2011.