Fourth-year MCO graduate student Andrew Kane is the proud winner of a fellowship from the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). The AFAR Scholarships for Research in the Biology of Aging was established to give up to eight students the opportunity to conduct a three to six month research project on aging from a biomedical perspective.
Kane is a member of the Denic Lab, where MCB professor Vlad Denic researches the budding yeast species S. cerevisiae. Kane’s own work focuses on how cells respond to stress, and how those processes deteriorate with age.
“I’m examining many different stress pathways, but specifically for this scholarship, I’m looking at changes in the ability of cells to respond to folding stress as they get older,” Kane said. “Most proteins need to be folded properly to perform their functions, and it is thought that as cells get older, this function fails, leading to protein aggregation. Likely, this occurs through reduced production of chaperones, specialized proteins that aid in folding.”
The award committee chose its winners based on academic achievement, the merits of their proposed research, and the reputation of their faculty mentor. Denic will supervise Kane’s work, and he will be given up to $5,000 towards his research.
“In the project I proposed, I aim to examine the activity of a transcription factor that controls the expression of many of these chaperones, heat shock factor 1 (Hsf1),” Kane said. “I’ll be studying the changes in both its basal activity and its ability to increase its activity in response to folding stress during aging. Simultaneously, I’ll be examining the amount of aggregated proteins present in these cells and try to determine if these two properties correlate with each other, and if either is an indicator of lifespan. This will hopefully shed light on the question of whether or not protein aggregation and folding stress are symptoms of aging or causes of it.”