Location: Barshop Institute 2015


Cellular and Integrative Physiology

James F. Nelson, PhD



1971BAArchitecture (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Kappa Phi)University of Southern California
Los Angeles , CA
1975MSBiologyUniversity of Southern California
Los Angeles , CA
1981PhDBiologyUniversity of Southern California
Los Angeles , CA


Dr. Nelson’s research aims to understand the genetic and physiological basis for aging, using nutritional and pharmacologic interventions that extend rodent lifespan as probes. 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 emphasis on the role of hyperadrenocorticism and insulin signaling in the life-extending effect of dietary restriction. In addition, the NIA-funded Interventions Testing Center in which he participates has discovered lifespan- and heathspan-extending effects of several compounds with potential clinical application, including rapamycin, an FDA-approved inhibitor of mTOR signaling.


1.Harrison, D. E., Strong, R., Reifsnyder, P., Kumar, N., Fernandez, E., Flurkey, K., Javors, M. A., Lopez-Cruzan, M., Macchiarini, F., Nelson, J. F., Bitto, A., Sindler, A. L., Cortopassi, G., Kavanagh, K., Leng, L., Bucala, R., Rosenthal, N., Salmon, A., Stearns, T. M., ... Miller, R. A. (2021). 17-a-estradiol late in life extends lifespan in aging UM-HET3 male mice; nicotinamide riboside and three other drugs do not affect lifespan in either sex. Aging cell, 20(5), [e13328].
2.Salmon, A. B., Nelson, J. F., Gelfond, J. A. L., Javors, M., Ginsburg, B., Lopez-Cruzan, M., Galvan, V., Fernandez, E., Musi, N., Ikeno, Y., Hubbard, G., Lechleiter, J., Hornsby, P. J., & Strong, R. (2021). San Antonio Nathan Shock Center: your one-stop shop for aging research. GeroScience, 43(5), 2105-2118.
3.Miller, R. A., Harrison, D. E., Allison, D. B., Bogue, M., Debarba, L., Diaz, V., Fernandez, E., Galecki, A., Timothy Garvey, W., Jayarathne, H., Kumar, N., Javors, M. A., Ladiges, W. C., Macchiarini, F., Nelson, J., Reifsnyder, P., Rosenthal, N. A., Sadagurski, M., Salmon, A. B., ... Strong, R. (2020). Canagliflozin extends life span in genetically heterogeneous male but not female mice. JCI Insight, 5(21), [e140019].
4.Guderyon, M. J., Chen, C., Bhattacharjee, A., Ge, G., Fernandez, R. A., Gelfond, J. A. L., Gorena, K. M., Cheng, C. J., Li, Y., Nelson, J. F., Strong, R. J., Hornsby, P. J., Clark, R. A., & Li, S. (2020). Mobilization-based transplantation of young-donor hematopoietic stem cells extends lifespan in mice. Aging cell, 19(3), [e13110].
5.Strong, R., Miller, R. A., Bogue, M., Fernandez, E., Javors, M. A., Libert, S., Marinez, P. A., Murphy, M. P., Musi, N., Nelson, J. F., Petrascheck, M., Reifsnyder, P., Richardson, A., Salmon, A. B., Macchiarini, F., & Harrison, D. E. (2020). Rapamycin-mediated mouse lifespan extension: Late-life dosage regimes with sex-specific effects. Aging cell, 19(11), [e13269].
6.Harrison, D. E., Strong, R., Alavez, S., Astle, C. M., DiGiovanni, J., Fernandez, E., Flurkey, K., Garratt, M., Gelfond, J. A. L., Javors, M. A., Levi, M., Lithgow, G. J., Macchiarini, F., Nelson, J. F., Sukoff Rizzo, S. J., Slaga, T. J., Stearns, T., Wilkinson, J. E., & Miller, R. A. (2019). Acarbose improves health and lifespan in aging HET3 mice. Aging cell, 18(2), [e12898].
7.Cheng, C. J., Gelfond, J. A. L., Strong, R., & Nelson, J. F. (2019). Genetically heterogeneous mice exhibit a female survival advantage that is age- and site-specific: Results from a large multi-site study. Aging cell, 18(3), [e12905].
8.Miller, R. A., Harrison, D. E., Astle, C. M., Bogue, M. A., Brind, J., Fernandez, E., Flurkey, K., Javors, M., Ladiges, W., Leeuwenburgh, C., Macchiarini, F., Nelson, J., Ryazanov, A. G., Snyder, J., Stearns, T. M., Vaughan, D. E., & Strong, R. (2019). Glycine supplementation extends lifespan of male and female mice. Aging cell, 18(3), [e12953].
9.Allen, B. D., Liao, C. Y., Shu, J., Muglia, L. J., Majzoub, J. A., Diaz, V., & Nelson, J. F. (2019). Hyperadrenocorticism of calorie restriction contributes to its anti-inflammatory action in mice. Aging cell, 18(3), [e12944].
10.Lee, H. J., Feliers, D., Barnes, J. L., Oh, S., Choudhury, G. G., Diaz, V., Galvan, V., Strong, R., Nelson, J., Salmon, A., Kevil, C. G., & Kasinath, B. S. (2018). Hydrogen sulfide ameliorates aging-associated changes in the kidney. GeroScience, 40(2), 163-176.
11.Strong, R., Miller, R. A., Antebi, A., Astle, C. M., Bogue, M., Denzel, M. S., Fernandez, E., Flurkey, K., Hamilton, K. L., Lamming, D. W., Javors, M. A., de Magalhães, J. P., Martinez, P. A., McCord, J. M., Miller, B. F., Müller, M., Nelson, J. F., Ndukum, J., Rainger, G. E., ... Harrison, D. E. (2016). Longer lifespan in male mice treated with a weakly estrogenic agonist, an antioxidant, an α-glucosidase inhibitor or a Nrf2-inducer. Aging cell, 15(5), 872-884.
12.Harrison, D. E., Strong, R., Allison, D. B., Ames, B. N., Astle, C. M., Atamna, H., Fernandez, E., Flurkey, K., Javors, M. A., Nadon, N. L., Nelson, J. F., Pletcher, S., Simpkins, J. W., Smith, D., Wilkinson, J. E., & Miller, R. A. (2014). Acarbose, 17-α-estradiol, and nordihydroguaiaretic acid extend mouse lifespan preferentially in males. Aging cell, 13(2), 273-282.
13.Miller, R. A., Harrison, D. E., Astle, C. M., Fernandez, E., Flurkey, K., Han, M., Javors, M. A., Li, X., Nadon, N. L., Nelson, J. F., Pletcher, S., Salmon, A. B., Sharp, Z. D., Van Roekel, S., Winkleman, L., & Strong, R. (2014). Rapamycin-mediated lifespan increase in mice is dose and sex dependent and metabolically distinct from dietary restriction. Aging cell, 13(3), 468-477.