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Neuroinflammation in aged brain.

Xiao Tian Lab

@ Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

We study the fundamental mechanisms of aging and their roles in driving age-related diseases. Our goal is to mitigate the effects of aging using genetic and epigenetic interventions.

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While our life expectancy continues to increase, most of us do not live the human lifespan potential of around 120 years. A crueler reality is many of us confront age-related challenges as early as our 60s or 70s, with half of us not being able to see our 80th birthday. Biologically (excluding external factors like wars, pandemics, accidents, or suicides), age-related diseases cause over 50% of human deaths, while the rest are largely due to aging itself. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of aging—especially their roles in driving age-related diseases—is crucial for advancing interventions and therapies for a prolonged and healthy life.


Three seminal questions drive the aging research: What is aging? Why do we age? And how to intervene? The last thirty years of research have delineated at least twelve hallmarks of aging, shedding light on the “what” at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. Yet, challenging questions remain: Why do these hallmarks happen in the first place? How to most effectively modulate the aging process? Can we prevent, delay, or treat age-related conditions by targeting aging? These overarching questions shape the direction of our research.

Research Interests

Single nuclei multiomics in aged tissue.

Decipher the molecular basis of epigenetic deterioration during aging 

Neurogenesis in dentate gyrus.

Target cellular and tissue aging to counteract age-related diseases

This is a naked mole rat, the longest-lived rodent.

Identify the mechanisms that determine aging rates across species

Publication Highlights

Lu Y, Brommer B**, Tian X**, Krishnan A**, Meer M, Wang C, Vera DL, Zeng Q, Yu D, Bonkowski MS, Yang J-H, Zhou S, Hoffmann EM, Karg MM, Schultz MB, Kane AE, Davidsohn N, Korobkina E, Chwalek K, Rajman LA, Church GM, Hochedlinger K, Gladyshev VN, Horvath S, Levine ME, Gregory-Ksander MS, Ksander BR, He Z & Sinclair DA. Reprogramming to recover youthful epigenetic information and restore vision. Nature. 2020 Dec;588(7836):124-129.

Tian X, Firsanov D, Zhang Z, Cheng Y, Luo L, Tombline G, Tan R, Simon M, Henderson S, Steffan J, Goldfarb A, Tam J, Zheng K, Cornwell A, Johnson A, Yang J-N, Mao Z, Manta B, Dang W, Zhang Z, Vijg J, Wolfe A, Moody K, Bohmann D, Gladyshev VN, Seluanov A, Gorbunova V. SIRT6 Is Responsible for More Efficient DNA Double-Strand Break Repair in Long-Lived Species. Cell. 2019 Apr 18;177(3):622-638.e22.

Tian X*, Azpurua J*, Hine C*, Vaidya A, Myakishev-Rempel M, Ablaeva J, Mao Z, Nevo E, Gorbunova V, Seluanov A. High-molecular-mass hyaluronan mediates the cancer resistance of the naked mole rat. Nature. 2013 Jul 18;499(7458):346-9

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