Jan van Deursen
Jan is passionate about basic medical research and its potential to transform human health and treatment of disease. He has a longstanding interest in questions related to cell cycle control and cellular responses to stress. He helped establish the concept that, with aging and development of age-related disease, wasteful transformed cells that cannot divide litter tissues and organs in small numbers and demonstrated that clearance of these so-called “senescent cells” extends both healthspan and lifespan. During his Ph.D. training, Jan pioneered technologies to knock down the expression of endogenous genes in mice, and these techniques have proven to be particularly useful in uncovering the physiological function of mammalian genes essential to cell division or viability. In applying these technologies to address the longstanding question as to whether aneuploidy is a cause or a consequence of cancer, Jan discovered that BubR1 (an essential mitotic checkpoint protein that ensures faithful chromosome segregation) is causally implicated in cancer, progeria and aging. Studies originating from his desire to understand these mechanisms are credited with providing the first in vivo evidence that p16-positive senescent cells drive aging and age-related disease, thus establishing cellular senescence as a promising target for therapeutic intervention. Dr. van Deursen holds a B.S. in Biology, M.S. in Molecular Biology, and Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University of Nijmegen. He is the Vita Valley Professor of Senescence at Mayo Clinic, where he chairs the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and directs research programs in the Center for Biomedical Discovery, the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Kogod Center on Aging. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands and serves on numerous national and international grant review panels.