Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Chemical Biology of Aging

Research Area

Grant Type



Aging is the single largest risk factor for human disease in developed countries. Consequently, an understanding of the mechanisms of aging may allow for rational design of therapies for diseases like diabetes, cancer, and neurodegeneration. There has been remarkable progress in the biological understanding of aging mainly through studies of simple animal “models” such as fruit flies, microscopic nematode worms and single celled yeast. The most revealing insight from these studies is that the basic processes that determine lifespan are alike in very different species including mammals. There is tremendous hope that basic knowledge of aging mechanisms, even in simple animals, can be exploited to improve human health.

The discovery of chemical compounds that slow aging has opened up the exciting possibility to translate knowledge of aging in simple model organisms into therapeutic approaches to age-related disease. We have formed a network of researchers from the Buck Institute and UC San Diego and employing high-throughput technology, to identify compounds that slow aging. We are studying the action of such compounds in simple laboratory organisms such as yeast, worms and flies. This has prompted new studies in mouse models which in turn we would hope may yield pre-clinical studies. In the shorter term, we believe that investigating the mechanisms of chemical lifespan extension will bring us closer to an understanding of aging mechanisms.