Ambati Wins Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging

Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, professor of Physiology and professor and vice-chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine has been selected as an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging, The award is bestowed to support and stimulate innovative research programs relevant to understanding lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities.

The Ambati lab recently published articles in the journals Nature and Cell revealing a new function for a nebulous type of genetic material known as Alu repetitive elements: they showed that these “jumping genes” cause damage to cells in the retina in patients with AMD.

The Ellison Award will fund studies on broader types of “jumping genes”. “I am fortunate to be surrounded by highly creative and dynamic young scientists like Benjamin Fowler, an M.D.-Ph.D. student, and Bradley Gelfand, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, who are integral members of our research team,” said Ambati.

Aging-associated diseases are assuming epidemic proportions worldwide. By the year 2025, 1.2 billion people will be 60 or older. Improvements in health care and disease prevention have the potential to create economic benefit to, and to dramatically improve the quality of life of, millions of individuals. Significant breakthroughs in understanding the basic biological processes that underlie aging and age-related diseases are the best hope for achieving genuine prevention or amelioration of age-related debilitation and disease.