UW Medicine

Malene Hansen

Malene Hansen



Dr. Hansen (she/her) is Chief Scientific Officer and Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Northern California. She obtained a Master of Science in biochemistry in 1998, and a doctorate in molecular biology in 2001, both from Copenhagen University, Denmark. Dr. Hansen carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Professor Cynthia Kenyon, Ph.D., a world leader in the genetics of aging. Dr. Hansen started her independent research career at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), a private, non-profit research institute in San Diego in the fall of 2007. There, she also served as Associate Dean of Student Affairs in SBP’s accredited graduate program, and as Faculty Advisor on Postdoctoral Training until February 2021, when she transitioned to Buck (her lab moved in August 2021). In recognition of her mentoring efforts, Dr. Hansen has received the 2017 Mentor Award from the National Postdoctoral Association in the US, and she enjoys giving seminars on mentoring and professional development.

Dr. Hansen’s research uses both the short-lived and genetically tractably nematode C. elegans as well as mammalian cell cultures to investigate the molecular mechanisms of aging with a special focus on the role and regulation of the cell’s ability to recycle its own components, a process called autophagy (awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine). Her research has resulted in >60 publications and she has received several awards for her research, including an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award, a Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, a Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research, a Breakthrough in Gerontology Award and the Irving Wright Award of Distinction 2021 from the American Association for Aging Research. Dr. Hansen serves as an ad hoc reviewer for multiple scientific journals and she has organized a number of international scientific conferences, including the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s meeting on Mechanisms of Aging from 2014-2018 and the 2020 Keystone meeting on Aging. She is currently a co-organizer of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s meeting on Proteostasis.

During her career, Dr. Hansen has mentored >40 undergraduate students, >15 research assistants, five graduate students, and 13 postdoctoral fellows, several of which have gone on to start their own independent research labs, including at Brown University, SBP, and MIT.