Olivia Casanueva

Olivia is leader of a research team at Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK. Groundbreaking work in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has demonstrated that ageing is not simply a stochastic and progressive decay, but that it is genetically controlled by the longevity pathways. Strikingly, lifespan is highly variable even in genetically identical individuals reared under controlled environmental conditions. In this framework, Olivia's laboratory is interested in finding the mechanisms underlying transcriptional inter-individual variability in genes that modulate lifespan and determining to what extent it explains individual-to-individual differences in the rates of ageing. They are also interested in studying the influence of both stochastic and environmental variability during early life and its long-term effect on health. Dietary restriction (DR), reduced food intake without malnutrition, increases health and function during ageing and protects against ageing-related disease in most organisms. They are interested in understanding how early life nutrition (and DR) can set rates of ageing via epigenetic mechanisms. Answering these questions requires the development of new technologies that make whole animals centre stage and will have a significant conceptual impact on ageing research and personalized medicine.