Finding Genius Podcast
Gerontologist Berenice Benayoun Reconfigures How We Study Aging
Jun 11, 2020 · 43 min
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Professor Benayoun grew interested in studying aging and becoming a gerontologist as an undergraduate working with a key study. Now an assistant professor of gerontology, she explains her current work to listeners.

When you listen, you'll hear her talk about

  • Why it is important that the FDA has not categorized aging as a disease,
  • What transposons have to do with epigenetics, aging, and our immune system, and
  • How differently the sexes respond to the aging process and why that should be centered more in most research.

Berenice A. Benayoun is Assistant Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. She tells listeners about how she became interested in the field and why it asks such complicated and engaging questions applicable to us all.

She gives some background first on how scientists had to reframe their view on aging after a seminal study by biologist Cynthia Kenyon that found a mutation in a roundworm doubled its life. Benayoun explains that previously aging was thought only in terms of decay, but Kenyon's finding changed this view. 

Benayoun started her own lab at USC about three years ago. She's researching two main concepts, which she explains in more detail: first, her lab is looking at sex differences on aging. She says that some aging interventions have completely different effects on eah sex.

Further, the majority of past studies have steered toward male subjects. Her lab is also looking at transposons, which are endogenous viruses in our genomes, and how they regulate aging. People had thought of them as part of junk DNA in the past, but because they become active when we age, they are likely significant.

She explains other elements of aging that involve epigenetics, methods that show promise for delaying aging such as modulating the insulin cell-signaling pathway, and future steps in her field.

For more see her lab page at gero.usc.edu/labs/benayounlab and find her on twitter as @BBParis1984.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myKhttps://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/id1169016854

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