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Principal Investigator


Alaattin Kaya is a geneticist and biochemist, interested in many aspects of biology of aging from the evolutionary and molecular genetics and biochemical perspectives. Genes and environmental factors that strongly interact to modulate observed aging patterns among different organisms has been one of his major interests. He hopes to advance understanding of the biology of aging and the fundamental relationship between genetic variation, metabolism and longevity phenotypes. He has also keen interest on evolution of stress resistance, mitochondrial biology and mito-nuclear communication regulating cellular homeostasis.

Lab Members


Morteza Abyadeh, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow 

Morteza is a postdoctoral researcher investigating the role of cellular aneuploidy state in senescence during aging and age-related disease. He applies computational and wet lab techniques on human and mouse cell culture models of human diseases to characterize the key genes and molecular pathways that drive cellular senescence, and also responsible for promoting age-related neurodegenerative diseases. By applying computational biology methods, he is also experimenting whether those genes  can be targeted to develop therapeutic interventions.



Rohil H. Tantray, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow 

Rohil is a postdoctoral researcher and his primary research interests encompass exploring the color perception underlining neuronal and molecular mechanisms using a nematode C. elegans model.  Also, he is working on a project aiming to  generate a novel sgRNA-based feeding library for 13000 C. elegans genes to induce their expression. Using this library he will conduct a genome-wide gene overexpression study for identify modulators of aging and other phenotypes associated with neurodegenerative diseases.


Ryan Counterman Jobb: M.Sc. student, Biology

Ryan is interested in understating molecular mechanisms linking the tryptophan catabolic pathway to lifespan regulation. He is also interested in the evolutionary engineering of cells to visualize real-time mitochondrial-nuclear co-adaptation at the molecular level under various age-associated stress conditions.


Vikas Gujjala: Ph.D. student, Integrative Life Sciences

Vikas is interested in uncovering the effect of genetic diversity in the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) activity and cellular response to rapamycin. He is aiming to understand whether perturbed TOR1 signaling cause similar phenotypic changes under age-associated stress conditions across different genetic backgrounds of the same species. 



Naci Oz: Ph.D. student, Integrative Life Sciences

Naci utilizes mice, cell culture and yeast models in his research to investigate (1) mechanisms by which cells decode alternative epigenetic information, when intracellular NAD is depleted, (2) identification of pathways regulating NAD and ATP homeostasis and their association with neurodegenerative diseases.



Lesly Turcios-Hernandez: Senior, Biology Major,  Undergraduate Technician

Lesly is an undergraduate (senior) at VCU majoring in Biology. She is a undergraduate lab technician and a member of the yeast tetrad dissection team for Replicative Lifespan analysis and WormBot team for worm lifespan analysis. Her project involves in understanding of mitochondrial background in lifespan regulation and identification of conserved essential regulators of lifespan. 


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