Dr. Shelley L. Berger will discuss “Epigenetic Regulation of Senescence and Aging” Mar. 12 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. She will give the annual Florence Mahoney Lecture on Aging, sponsored by NIA and part of the NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series.
Berger is a leader in the field of eukaryotic gene regulation, unifying understanding of transcription and chromatin regulation. Her pioneering studies elucidated mechanisms of histone modifications, modifier enzymes, their complexes and their coordination.
For the Mahoney lecture, she will discuss the role epigenetic changes play in human cellular senescence and aging. Current thinking holds that aging is plastic and its pace can be slowed or even reversed; epigenetic alterations may be key to this potential reversibility. Cellular senescence is a state of proliferation arrest in response to cellular stress, such as long-term cell replication in differentiated cells. While senescence is protective to the organism against stress in the short-term, the cells also undergo damage contributing to “aging,” a highly deleterious consequence. Berger’s work has uncovered dramatic alteration of the epigenetic landscape in senescence and aging, providing potential for epigenetic therapy to address deterioration on a broad front to improve health span.
Since 2009, Berger has been the Daniel S. Och university professor at the University of Pennsylvania and is a faculty member in the cell & developmental biology department in the Perelman School of Medicine. She also serves as founder and director of the epigenetics program at Penn School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. and B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan. Berger is the recipient of an Ellison Foundation Senior Scholar Award and an HHMI collaborative research award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. She also helped create the NIH-sponsored Human Epigenome Project.
There will be a reception and an opportunity to talk with the speaker in the NIH Library following the lecture.