Identification of a Viral Pathogen in Nematodes

Investigator: Cynthia Kenyon, PhD
Sponsor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Location(s): United States


A Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to explore innovative research that could improve global health. The purpose is to identify a natural viral pathogen that can be used to kill nematodes that cause a wide variety of diseases in humans.

The Kenyon Lab studies the small roundworm C. elegans, and also cultured human cells, to identify genes, pathways and drugs that can extend lifespan. In 1993, Dr. Kenyon's discovery that a single-gene mutation (Daf-2) could double the lifespan of C. elegans and that this could be reversed by a second mutation in daf-16m,[3] sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. Dr. Kenyon's findings have led to the discovery that an evolutionarily-conserved hormone signaling system influences aging in other organisms, perhaps also including mammals.