Princeton University
Department of Molecular Biology

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Tiger Talks


Using C. elegans as a Model for Aging

Tue, Apr 24, 2007
Location - TBA


Professor of Molecular Biology


On April 24, 2007, Prof. Coleen Murphy presented the spring semester TIGER Talk in front of a lively audience of high school students and their teachers. She described the discovery of genes that determine lifespan. Experimental organisms with mutations in these genes live up to twice as long as normal. These same genes are found in many animals, including humans, where we think they also help to regulate how long we live. Dr. Murphy described her efforts to study lifespan genes in the model organism C. elegans, a small nematode (roundworm). She explained her discovery that not only do worms with mutations in their lifespan genes live longer, they also appear to enjoy a better "quality of life". Specifically, these worms maintain the ability to learn, remember, and reproduce much later in life than their "wild type" counterparts. If you think that measuring how well worms learn and remember might be an interesting challenge, you'd be right! Immediately after the TIGER Talk, students and teachers had a chance to go into the laboratory and view worms under the microscope. Under Dr. Murphy's guidance, they observed wild-type and mutant worms, young and old worms, and - perhaps most interestingly - old worms who just looked young.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Princeton Center for Quantitative Biology