Our bodies have amazing regenerative capacity, which is fueled by tissue-specific stem cells. This capacity declines with age, disrupting tissue maintenance. Many age-related diseases, including cancer, COPD, and sarcopenia, are likely consequence of stem cell dysfunction. Understanding how stem cells age and identifying intervention strategies to maintain stem cell function and regenerative capacity is thus likely to lead to new therapeutic approaches for maintaining our health as we age.
The Jasper lab uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to explore the basic biology of stem cell function and regeneration and to identify mechanisms of age-related stem cell dysfunction. Hypotheses emerging from this work are then tested in mammalian systems. We have identified signaling mechanisms that govern the response of stem cells to environmental stress, to nutrient conditions, and to the commensal microbiota as areas of intervention to preserve tissue health. We have also identified intervention strategies based on these findings that can extend lifespan and maintain stem cell populations in flies and mice.
Why it matters
Interventions that promote stem cell health are likely to provide new avenues to prolong human tissue health and to treat or prevent a wide range of age-related diseases. Coupling fundamental insight into stem cell biology to the exploration of such intervention strategies is likely to be a productive route for the identification of new and promising therapeutic approaches.
While biologically complex, our premise is based on a simple possibility: reinvigorating our tissues as we age may allow us to address many of the chronic diseases that afflict older adults.
Henri Jasper, PhD
Dr. Jasper obtained a diploma in biochemistry in 1999 from the University of Tübingen in Germany, and he received his PhD in 2002 from the University of Heidelberg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, where he studied transcriptional regulation of developmental processes in Drosophila. He was appointed research assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2003 and became assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Rochester in 2005, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2010. He moved to the Buck Institute in July 2012 and served as its chief scientific officer from 2014 to 2017. In 2017, he was appointed staff scientist at Genentech, Inc.
Rebeccah Riley Senior Research Association (Lab Manager)
Rebeccah received her bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from UC Santa Cruz. Early on she began studying the mechanisms of the human papilloma virus using rodent models to understand the correlation between 17B-estradiol and cervical cancer at UCSF. She joined the Buck Institute in 2003 to continue research on novel cancer cell therapies and the role of stem cell maintenance in the aging process. In her spare time she trains dogs for search and rescue, passionately trail rides her horses wherever and whenever she can, and enjoys raising two small boys in lovely Sonoma County.
D. I.Dr. Imilce Rodriguez-Fernandez (2013–2017) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. S.Dr. Samantha Haller (2015–2017) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. D.Dr. Daniel Hu (2016–2017) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. J.Dr. Jina Yun (2016–2017) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. O.Dr. Otto Morris (2016–2017) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. H.Dr. Helen Tauc (2016–2017) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. L.Dr. Lifen Wang (2012–2017) Senior Scientific Researcher, Genentech
D. H.Dr. Hansong Deng (2012–2017) Assistant Professor, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
D. J.Dr. Jihyun Kim (2012–2016) Senior Scientist, Finless Foods; Associate Editor at Bio-Protocol
D. H.Dr. Hongjie Li (2012–2016) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stanford Neurosciences Institute
D. A.Dr. Arshad Ayyaz (2012–2015) Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto
D. L.Dr. Linlin Guo (2012–2016) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genentech
D. S.Dr. Subir Kapuria (2012–2015) Postdoctoral Fellow, Saban Research Institute, Los Angeles
D. J.Dr. Jason Karpac (2008–2014) Assistant Professor, Texas A&M Health Science Center
Jasper Lab Retreat, Bodega Bay, 2016
- Neves, J., Zhu, J., Sousa-Victor, P., Konjikusic, M., Riley, R., Chew, S., Qi, Y., Jasper, H., Lamba, D. A. (2016 July 1). Immune modulation by MANF promotes tissue repair and regenerative success in the retina. Science, 353(6294), aaf3646.
- Deng, H., Gerencser, A., Jasper, H. (2015). Signal integration by Ca2+ regulates intestinal stem cell activity. Nature, 528, 212–7.
- Ayyaz, A., Li, H., Jasper, H. (2015). Hemocytes control stem cell activity in the Drosophila intestine. Nature Cell Biology, 17(6), 736–48.
- Guo, L., Karpac, J., Tran, S. L., Jasper, H. (2014 Jan 16). PGRP-SC2 promotes gut immune homeostasis to limit commensal dysbiosis and extend lifespan. Cell, 156(1), 109–22.
- Hochmuth, C., Biteau, B., Bohmann, D., Jasper, H. (2011). Redox regulation by Keap1 and Nrf2 controls intestinal stem cell proliferation in Drosophila. Cell Stem Cell, 8, 1–12.
- Biteau, B., Hochmuth, C. E., Jasper, H. (2008). JNK activity in somatic stem cells causes loss of tissue homeostasis in the aging Drosophila. Cell Stem Cell, 3(4), 442–55.
- Wang, M. C., Bohmann, D., Jasper, H. (2005). JNK extends lifespan and limits growth by antagonizing cellular and organism-wide responses to Insulin signaling. Cell, 121, 115–125.