The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) awarded Dennis Lavrov, associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Bioliology, and his collaborators a $1,050,000 research project grant for their research “Enhancing mitochondrial DNA fidelity to improve mammalian lifespan and healthspan.”
Lavrov applied for the grant with the James Stewart, Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, Germany; and Cameron Mackreth from the University of Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France.
The HFSPO awarded grants to only the top four percent of applicants over a three-year period. The 34 winning teams of the 2019 competition for the research grants went through a rigorous year-long selection process in a global competition that started with 814 submitted letters of intent, involving scientists with their laboratories in more than 60 different countries.
“This multidisciplinary international project will help us to understand the causes of a higher mutation rate in animal mtDNA – which leads to multiple mitochondrial diseases and contributes to aging,” said Lavrov. “It might provide a potential avenue for interfering with these processes.”
Lavrov’s current focus on comparative mitochondrial genomics, primarily of non-bilaterian (Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Placozoa, and Porifera) will provide a basis for more applied questions asked in this project. At the same time, asking and testing such functional questions based on the present and historical variation in the mt-MUTS proteins will represent a departure from the lab’s normal focus.