WashU Nephrology Researcher Feng Chen a Co-principal Investigator in $7.5 Million Senescence Study

WashU Nephrology researcher Feng Chen is part of the newly established Washington University Senescence Tissue Mapping Center (WU-SN-TMC) that will collaborate with NIH’s Cellular Senescence Network (SenNet) to study cell senescence and its role in the diseases of aging. 

The WU-SN-TMC is being led by principal investigator Li Ding, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Genetics Director of Computational Biology, with co-principal investigators Feng Chen, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Nephrology, Ryan C. Fields, MD, Chief and Professor of Surgical Oncology and the Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professor of Surgery, and Sheila A. Stewart, PhD, Vice Chair and the Gerty Cori Professor of Cell Biology & Physiology.  

From left: Drs. Li Ding, Feng Chen, Ryan C. Fields and Sheila A. Stewart (@sastewartlab)

Senescent cells – cells that are in a state of irreversible growth arrest – accumulate during aging and have been implicated in promoting a variety of age-related diseases.  The WashU group is one of eight tissue-mapping centers that will map senescent cells in selected tissues in order to understand their distribution and molecular signature in various states of health and lifespan. 

Using recent advances in omics and molecular imaging technologies, the WU-SN-TCM team will investigate transcriptional changes and secretory features driving and/or associated with senescence with more depth and resolution than previously possible.  They will work with other SenNet centers and the Consortium Organization and Data Coordination Center to generate comprehensive, publicly accessible atlases of the data compiled.  Also in the network are Technology Development Projects centers that will promote the development of novel, innovative technologies to study cellular senescence in model systems and/or human tissues.

“With advances in single cell and spatial omics, as well as in multiplex 2D and 3D imaging, the timing is perfect for us to locate the evasive senescent cells and define their molecular signatures in different tissues.  These efforts will help identify cellular and molecular targets for treating aging-related diseases in different organs, including the kidney.”

Co-principal investigator Feng Chen, Division of Nephrology

The WashU mapping group will receive 7.5 million over five years to support their research.  The NIH has plans to expand SenNet through additional awards in the future.  The other tissue-mapping centers include Yale University, Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., University of Pittsburgh, University of Connecticut, Duke University, University of Minnesota, and Columbia University.

SenNet is supported by the NIH Common Fund and overseen by the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute.

For more information, see the WashU press release and the NIH news release.

Learn more about senescence and SenNet in the video below: