Bérénice Benayoun, assistant professor of gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School, received a $200,000 grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI).
The funding will support Benayoun’s work in understanding the molecular aspects of ovarian aging and menopause, with the goal of developing diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets to preserve ovarian function and promote healthy longevity.
Women spend one-third of their lives in menopause, with serious implications for health. In addition to affecting the ability to reproduce, women experience higher rates of disease and frailty after losing ovarian function as they age.
“Due to limited tissue accessibility and lack of reliable research models, ovarian aging and its health impacts remain poorly understood,” said Benayoun. “This award will help advance research and raise awareness around the effects of menopause on women’s health and I am grateful to CZI for recognizing the importance of this work.”
Benayoun aims to build a roadmap to characterize the underlying molecular features of ovarian aging by performing a meta-analysis of ovarian single-cell RNA-sequencing datasets across age groups, reproductive states and species.
“Our project has the potential to identify candidate biomarkers and molecular targets that may be used for addressing ovarian aging,” she said. “Establishing appropriate models for ovarian aging research will help provide effective pipelines to test and validate potential diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets to slow down or reverse ovarian aging.”
The award comes from the CZI Single-Cell Biology Program, which funds projects that aim to use and gain insights into health and disease from existing single-cell datasets to help accelerate progress toward challenges associated with the compilation and exploration of large atlas-scale data.