- Assistant Professor of Lab Medicine and Pathology
Dr. Mendenhall’s laboratory utilizes the nematode C. elegans to understand how and why genetically identical populations of cells and animals in the same environment age differently. How much and what kind of physiological variation is intrinsic/chance based, or is programmed and heritable? The lab takes the approach of directly observing events inside of living cells using spectral confocal microscopy to measure fluorescent signals from specific cells in animals bearing multiple reporter genes. In this manner, an array of reporter genes is used to identify cellular mechanisms that may cause variation in lifespan by measuring the functionality of different cellular subsystems during the course of aging. These data are used to generate and test hypotheses to determine mechanisms of cell, organ and organism failure during the natural aging process, and in different disease models, including C. elegans models of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.