Dr. Nelson's research is aimed at understanding the genetic and physiological basis for nutritional and pharmacologic interventions that extend rodent longevity. Most recently, his laboratory discovered dramatic genetic variation in the lifespan response to dietary restriction, including a life-shortening effect in some genotypes. These findings provide a new way of identifying the genes and probing the mechanisms whereby dietary restriction and other interventions affect aging. For example, his group found that maintenance not reduction of adiposity was a strong correlate of lifespan extension, whereas reduction in adiposity was a risk factor for life shortening by dietary restriction. His research also focuses on the role of endocrine systems in aging, with a particular focus on the role of hyperadrenocorticism and insulin signaling in the life-extending effect of dietary restriction.
Harrison DE, Strong R, Allison DB, Ames BN, Astle CM, Atamna H, Fernandez E, Flurkey K, Javors MA, Nadon NL, Nelson JF, Pletcher S, Simpkins JW, Smith D, Wilkinson JE, Miller RA. Acarbose, 17-α-estradiol, and nordihydroguaiaretic acid extend mouse lifespan preferentially in males. Aging Cell. 2014 Apr;13(2):273-82.
Miller RA, Harrison DE, Astle CM, Fernandez E, Flurkey K, Han M, Javors MA, Li X, Nadon NL, Nelson JF, Pletcher S, Salmon AB, Sharp ZD, Van Roekel S, Winkleman L, Strong R. Rapamycin-mediated lifespan increase in mice is dose and sex dependent and metabolically distinct from dietary restriction. Aging Cell. 2013 Dec 17.
Nelson JF, Strong R, Bokov A, Diaz V, Ward W. Probing the relationship between insulin sensitivity and longevity using genetically modified mice. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Dec;67(12):1332-8.
Liao CY, Rikke BA, Johnson TE, Gelfond JA, Diaz V, Nelson JF. Fat maintenance is a predictor of the murine lifespan response to dietary restriction. Aging Cell. 2011 Aug;10(4):629-39.
Liao CY, Rikke BA, Johnson TE, Diaz V, Nelson JF. Genetic variation in the murine lifespan response to dietary restriction: from life extension to life shortening. Aging Cell. 2010 Feb;9(1):92-5