Dr. Nicholas Schork, Director of Quantitative Medicine at TGen, seeks a creative, independent, and highly motivated researcher interested in developing and applying novel and comprehensive quantitative methods for understanding and characterizing the genetic and molecular determinants of human longevity and longevity enhancement. Dr. Schork is one of the two principal investigators (PIs) for the NIA-funded longevity consortium, whose goal is to characterize the genetic basis of human longevity, and a co-PI on another NIA-funded consortium grant to identify genetic targets for longevity-enhancing interventions. The methods, analyses, and tools to be developed will leverage these connections, but go beyond them, in developing bioinformatic and biostatical analysis methods to identify genetic longevity-enhancing intervention targets and designing studies to test their effects.
Brief Professional Activities Description
The post-doctoral fellow will have the opportunity to develop and evaluate quantitative methods for interrogating genetically-mediated factors that impact human longevity and leverage them in the design and analysis of longevity-enhancing intervention studies. TGen provides a very collaborative environment that includes basic scientists, computational and quantitative scientists, biomedical technology developers and clinicians, including those at TGen’s affiliated institution, the City of Hope Hospital in East Los Angeles, as well as its many other partner institutions.
There is tremendous interest in the identification of factors that affect human longevity and potential interventions that enhance human longevity. Unfortunately, human longevity is a complex, multifactorial phenotype with a number of interacting genetic and non-genetic determinants. Characterizing the factors influencing longevity will be difficult since the effect of any one factor can be obscured by the effects of others. As a result, more sophisticated and integrated approaches are needed. This is true for both the identification and characterization of longevity-enhancing factors and testing longevity-enhancing interventions that target these factors. A research challenge will be to develop reliable techniques for mining data relevant to genetically-mediated factors (for example from genome-wide association studies focusing on longevity) to identify better longevity-enhancing intervention targets, as well as methods to test interventions that exploit those targets. In this context, the proposed activity and research will involve:
Modeling and the influence of genetic variants on human longevity using imputation and mediation tests
Developing strategies for identifying drugs and nutritional interventions that beneficially modulate longevity-associated factors
Designing studies to test interventions that target longevity-enhancing factors
Designing studies that measure factors that indicate changes consistent with a health benefit
Helping oversee the conduct of studies to identify and test factors that enhance longevity
Present findings on longevity enhancement at major conferences and in peer-reviewed publications
TGen has access to resources (such as some of the largest and fastest computing systems in the world, a large phase I clinical trial center, a CLIA lab, genomic and other omic assay-oriented labs) that can be leveraged in the proposed research. In addition, the development of the proposed strategies and methods will likely have a broad, international impact, given the amount of attention human longeveity research is receiving, so the research to be pursued will be highly visible and competitive, and as a result could propel the career of an independently-minded researcher looking to make an indelible impact on a biomedical science and humanity in general.