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Throughout evolution, each species evolved unique features to increase fitness and adaptation to its surroundings. We are looking for biological pathways that enable extraordinary traits such as resistance to cancer and to extreme conditions such as aridity and exposure to radiation. We are also studying ‘test-tube’ evolution of the nematode C elegans, in order to learn about biological pathways affecting lifespan and incomplete penetrance.

Super Traits

Many species show unique, extraordinary traits, the result of adaptation to extreme environments or fitting to unique ecological niches.

This includes for example the tardigrade which is resistant to radiation, desiccation, extreme temperatures and other conditions. Also, the naked mole rat, elephant and bowhead whale show extreme longevity and resistance to cancer. Understanding the mechanisms allowing these traits may advance our ability to manipulate these pathways to improve health.

“Test Tube” Evolution

We are taking advantage of the remarkable traits of the nematode C. elegans as a model organism, to monitor evolution in the lab. We use mutants and apply external selective pressure to learn about incomplete penetrance ), and what determines lifespan.