William Ja, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Department Of Neuroscience
About William Ja
Over a century of research on the fruit fly has resulted in profound discoveries in basic cellular processes, and has enabled the use of Drosophila as a model for human disease and drug discovery. Our laboratory uses diverse tools in chemistry and biology to dissect genetic pathways that are involved in aging and behavior. We are currently involved in several major directions:
1. Interactions of symbiotic microorganisms with Drosophila Our studies establish the molecular relationships between the fly-associated microbes, nutrition, and host health and aging. Projects include phylogenetic and genomic studies, analyses of host and bacterial gene expression, and genetic manipulation of candidate host mechanisms for modulating the gut microbiota.
2. Genetic pathways involved with aging and nutrition We have identified candidate genes that modify lifespan in response to nutrition, mimicking the effects of dietary restriction. The mechanistic analysis of these genetic pathways includes application of large-scale methods (metabolomics, lipidomics) and gene expression studies on Drosophila mutants. We are also investigating small molecule-modulators of mitochondrial function in cell culture models of aging.
3. Drosophila feeding behavior We are developing simple tools for measuring short- and long-term food consumption in flies and characterizing genetic mutants with abnormal feeding behavior. This work will provide a better understanding of the central genetic and neuronal mechanisms that underlie appetite and feeding.
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