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Longer Life Foundation awards grants to several researchers

Foundation celebrates 20 years of funding longevity-related research

October 16, 2018

Six researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have received funding from the Longer Life Foundation — a cooperative effort between the School of Medicine and the Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) — that helps junior investigators launch research projects and assists more established researchers as they extend their investigations into new areas.

Samuel Klein, MD, the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science, chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science and director of the Longevity Research Program, received $62,500 to advance his research into novel biomarkers and metabolic pathways that differ between metabolically normal and abnormal obese adults.

Meredith E. Jackrel, PhD, an assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, received $47,500 to study a yeast protein that eventually may provide the basis for a new approach to treating neurodegenerative diseases by removing toxic protein aggregates from cells.

Grant A. Challen, PhD, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology, received $47,500 to study ways to identify leukemia-causing stem cells that develop in some disorders. His research aims to isolate dangerous cells in the bone marrow that can be selectively inhibited or eliminated before the cells acquire mutations and become malignant.

Brian J. DeBosch, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics, received a $47,500 award to investigate the potential of the natural sugar trehalose to prevent damage to the heart by reproducing the protective effects of intermittent fasting through pathways in the liver.

Jennie H. Kwon, DO, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, received $47,500 to fund the second year of a study involving patients with recurrent urinary tract infections, working to identify the relationship between the development of drug-resistant bacteria and alterations in the gut microbiome.

And Dmitri Samovski, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, received $47,500 to fund the second year of a study in animal models. The study examines the importance of fatty acids in the development of insulin resistance in the liver, potentially providing new targets for the management of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

This year, the Longer Life Foundation is celebrating 20 years of supporting research aimed at improving methods for promoting healthier lives, enhancing longevity and predicting long-term mortality. The foundation has funded 114 research grants at Washington University that eventually resulted in the publication of 127 peer-reviewed research articles on topics from cancer treatment and screening, to obesity and nutrition, to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on longevity and disability.

In January, the foundation will invite investigators to submit funding requests for 2019.