• Our lab studies the intersection between stress and aging using genetics, molecular, and cell biology tools in C. elegans and mammalian cell culture.

Organisms face stress on a daily basis, and generally these stressors have some form of negative effect on our physiology. For example, exposure to thermal stress (i.e., elevated heat) can cause elevated body temperatures, loss of cognitive function, and changes to mood – on a cellular level, elevated temperatures can damage organelles, cause protein misfolding and aggregation, and result in cell death. Stress can affect any part of the cell, and each compartment of the cell has a dedicated stress response responsible for protecting its integrity and function when exposed to stress. Currently, the Sanabria lab is particularly interested in understanding how and why stress response pathways break down during the aging process – for example, an 18-year-old exposed to desert heat would be uncomfortable, but would likely survive, while exposing a 90-year-old to the same level of heat stress could be catastrophic or deadly. We study how hijacking cellular stress responses could be used as a tool to slow down the aging process – that is, if we give the 90-year-old an 18-year-old’s capacity to deal with heat stress, would they be much healthier overall?


Assistant Professor of Gerontology
Email: ryo.sanabria@usc.edu

Areas of Expertise

  • Stress response
  • Mechanisms of aging
  • Genetics

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