A. Yankner, M.D., Ph.D.
of Neurology at Children’s Hospital
in Boston and at Harvard Medical School
is a world leader in the study of aging,
using the brain as a model system. Dr.
received an M.D., Ph.D. from Stanford University
in 1982, and was a resident of Internal
Medicine at Stanford University Medical
Center, (1984) and Neurology at Massachusetts
General Hospital, (1987). Dr. Yankner's
early work was seminal to the understanding
of the pathology of Alzheimer's disease.
His recent work on aging, analyzing the
expression of 11,000 genes in the brain,
has revealed a genetic signature in the
brains of individuals between 26 and 106
years old. One group of genes controls
the brain makes new connections critical
to learning and memory. Another set of
that are turned on in the aging brain is
involved in processes such as responses
to stresses and defense against damaging
oxidants such as free radicals. The researchers
also found that regions of particular genes
are quite vulnerable to DNA damage in the
aging brain. Individuals between ages 40
and 73 - the middle years - were shown
age at strikingly different rates. Working
with other members of the Paul F. Glenn
laboratories, Dr. Yankner and his team
set their sights on unraveling key mechanisms
of aging and finding small molecules to
slow the degeneration process.
Xu J, Kao S-Y, Lee FJS, Song W, Jin
L-W and Yankner BA (2002) Dopamine-dependent
neurotoxicity of alpha-synuclein: A
mechanism for selective neurodegeneration
in Parkinson’s disease. Nature
Lu T, Pan Y, Kao S-Y, Li C, Kohane I,
Chan J and Yankner BA (2004). Gene regulation
and DNA damage in the ageing human brain.
Epub 2004 Jun 09.
Xu J Zhong N, Wang H, Elias JE, Kim
CY, Woldman I, Pifl C, Gygi SP, Geula
C and Yankner BA (2005). The Parkinson’s
disease-asssociated DJ-1 protein is
a transcriptional co-activator that
protects against neuronal apoptosis.