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2020 Pilot Projects

Kristen Berendzen, UC San Francisco

Social isolation and loss of social attachments have been associated with increased risk of numerous age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and all-cause mortality. However, our understanding of the links between social attachment behavior and peripheral physiological health has been limited by the lack of genetic animal models displaying adult attachment behavior. Kristen Berendzen proposes to use the prairie vole, an animal that forms long term pair bonds, as a genetic model for examining the mechanistic link between social attachment and these diverse health outcomes. This work, under the mentorship of Dr. Alessandro Bartolomucci, will help to clarify the complex interaction between social behavior and cardiometabolic health and may result in new therapeutic avenues for age-related diseases.

Amanda Dettmer, Yale University

Dr. Dettmer will examine the influences of differing social environments early in life on biomarkers of inflammation in adulthood in rhesus macaques, with a particular focus on a novel biomarker of chronic inflammation, soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR). Dr. Dettmer will also investigate the role of chronic inflammation on adult health outcomes as a function of early social experiences.

Michael Sheehan, Cornell University

In his lab, Dr. Sheehan will examine the effects of costly status signaling on healthy aging in the lab and field enclosures, using the major urinary protein pheromones of house mice as a model system