Marc Tatar is Professor in The Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown University. Dr. Tatar has studied the demography, evolution and genetics of aging working with a variety of insect systems to explore the regulation and basic mechanisms of life history traits and senescence. Current work in the Tatar laboratory focuses on genetic analysis of Drosophila to understand how insulin/IGF signals and lipid hormones regulate aging, and how these endocrine signals interact with nutrition. Dr. Tatar received his Ph.D. from UC Davis in the laboratory of James Carey and completed post-doctoral training at the University of Minnesota with James Curtsinger. Dr. Tatar is an Ellison Senior Scholar, founding Joint Editor-in-Chief of Aging Cell, and a past member of the Board of Review Editors for Science.
I study life history evolution with an emphasis on senescence. Senescence intrigues because it seems counter-intuitive to the process of natural selection. How can physiological and demographic functions deteriorate with age in the face of selection that relentlessly increases mean fitness? And, how has evolution led to the tremendous variation in life span we observe among individuals, species and taxa? The solutions to these questions lie in understanding the way selection acts on age-structured populations, and in discovering how gene expression affects fitness. My research uses multiple approaches to develop a basic understanding of the genetics, mechanisms and evolution of senescence.
Research in the Tatar laboratory aims to understand the mechanisms that regulate aging and how this life history trait evolves. With Drosophila as a model system, we integrate many experimental approaches to explore aging from the levels of population demography and individual physiology, and down to genetics and molecular biology. Our primary focus is to understand how life span is modulated by hormones, especially from systemic and intra-cellular signals of insulin-like peptides, and from the systemic action of juvenile hormone. In the context of insulin signaling, we manipulate genes within the pathway, such as the insulin-like receptor or the insulin responsive transcription factor dfoxo, to understand their functions within cells and between tissues. On the other hand, to this day, the way juvenile hormone transduces signals remains a mystery. Therefore, to learn how this key insect hormone modulates aging, we are using new cell-culture based approaches and RNAi technology to first understand its molecular mode of action. These analyses will together elucidate how the integrated organism regulates the factors that determine its pattern of senescence its exposure to somatic damage and its processes of somatic repair. Hormones are particularly interesting in this context because they integrate life span with reproduction, growth, and nutrient intake. Since many traits are mutually constraining, understanding hormone action in life history analysis will permit us to not only describe how organisms senescence, but also why.
This program project, based at the Sanford Burnham Research Institute in San Diego, studies the genetic basis of functional aging with Drosophila as a model system. The Tatar subproject analyses innate immunity senescence using the fly kidney (Malpighian tubule) as a model aging tissue.
Role: Project Leader and Core Leader
Recently Completed Research Support
R01 AG031152 NIA Tatar (PI) 9/08 – 8/13
Mechanisms of Aging Regulation by Drosophila Germline
Determined how reproduction modulates aging through the action of signals from germline stemcells, via regulation of systemic regulation of insulin/IGF signaling
Appointments and Honors
1994 Merton Love Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Ecology, UC Davis
1994 Graduate Award for Excellence in Gerontology, UC Davis
2001-2003 Manning Assistant Professor, Brown University
2002, 2004 National Academy of Sciences/Beckman Frontiers of Science
2011-2021 MERIT Award, National Institute of Aging
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1997-2003: General Genetics
1997-present: Undergraduate Honors Research Thesis Primary Mentor
1999, 2004 - 2008: Darwinian Medicine
2000, 2002: Evolutionary Ecology
2002, 2003, 2004: EEB Graduate Seminars
2008: Biology of Aging
German American Academic Council Summer Institute, UCD, 1997
Summer Course in Experimental Aging Research, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015
Molecular Biology of Aging Course, MBL, Woods Hole 2002-2007
BIOL 0190F - Darwinian Medicine. Fall 2012, Fall 2013.
BIOL 2320D - The Biology of Aging. Spring 2013.
BIOL 2350 - The Biology of Aging. Spring 2014, Spring 2015.