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An Interview with Dr. Vera Gorbunova

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Today, we have an interview with Dr. Vera Gorbunova, who talks about the current understanding of the mechanisms of longevity and genomic stability in exceptionally long-lived mammals and how this knowledge might be used to create therapies to extend healthy human lifespan.

Dr. Vera Gorbunova is an endowed Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester and a co-director of the Rochester Aging Research Center. Her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of longevity and genome stability and on the studies of exceptionally long-lived mammals. Dr. Gorbunova earned her B.Sc. degrees at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia and her Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Dr. Gorbunova pioneered the comparative biology approach to studying aging and identifying the rules that control the evolution of tumor suppressor mechanisms, which depend on the species’ lifespan and body mass.

 

 

While she is known for her work in investigating the role of sirtuins in maintaining genomic stability, the focus of her research has more recently been on the longest-lived rodent species, the naked mole rat. During the interview, she talks about her work with this animal, which does not appear to age and lives for decades while other rodents do not.

Dr. Gorbunova identified high molecular weight hyaluronan as the key mediator of cancer resistance in the naked mole rat. This animal also enjoys highly efficient protein synthesis as well as a superb DNA damage repair system and, thus, a stable genome. Together, these things appear to support longevity, and she believes that we can learn how to increase our healthy lifespan by studying them.

We hope that you enjoy this interview, and we would like to thank Dr. Gorbunova for taking the time to talk with us.



 

About the author

Elena Milova

Elena has been a longevity activist and advocate since 2013, when she first started to organize educational events to make new evidence-based methods of healthy life extension more popular. The last few years have seen Elena leading some successful projects in Russia, aimed at spreading the idea of healthy longevity among decision makers as well as the general public. Several years of lobbying resulted in the inclusion of her propositions in the strategic program documents of the Russian Federation related to the problems of the elderly. She is a co-author of the book “Aging Prevention for All” (in Russian, 2015), where, among other topics, she is sharing how to facilitate the adoption of the healthy lifestyle to promote the period of good health. In 2015, Elena helped to shape and coordinate the successful crowdfunding campaign of the Major Mouse Testing Program – a study of Senolytic drug combinations on mouse lifespan. In 2017 at LEAF, Elena led a successful advocacy project to include the problems of the elderly into the WHO’s 13th Programme of Work . Previously Elena has worked as a project manager in the pharmaceutical and advertisement industries, helping to promote new drugs and therapies. This experience helped her to realize that the existing therapies were not 100% effective and could not completely stop age-related diseases – which has ignited an interest for the development of innovative therapies. Elena graduated with a bachelor’s in both psychology and foreign languages and is now working to earn her MBA at the oldest Russian business school MIRBIS.
About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 500 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.
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