Research Themes

The Kogod Center on Aging has four research themes that contribute valuable information about the aging process.

Translational Research Theme

The Translational Research Theme focuses on facilitating translational initiatives that use model systems to inform the potential impact of biological mechanisms and novel therapies on human health.

Clinical Studies Theme

The Clinical Studies Theme focuses on conducting disruptive, first-in-human clinical trials in parallel with pragmatic, iterative and readily implementable care pathways for older adults.

Dissemination Theme

The Dissemination Theme fosters and supports rigorous epidemiologic, health care delivery, patient-centered outcomes, implementation science, pragmatic trials and health policy research conducted in community and real-world practice settings.

The goals are to improve health and quality of life, reduce the burden of treatment, bolster the caregiver workforce, and eliminate health disparities among minoritized, rural and other underserved populations. This work supports the development and implementation of a geriatric learning health system across the Mayo Clinic enterprise. Focus areas within the theme include leading the development and dissemination of evidence-based, effective, equitable and goal-concordant therapies and care models across populations to improve the health, functional status and quality of life of older adults and their caregivers.

The theme director is Rozalina G. McCoy, M.D., M.S.

Discovery Science Theme

The Discovery Science Theme aims to broaden and deepen discovery science into fundamental aging processes with the potential to be therapeutically targeted to transform human health.

The Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging stands at the scientific forefront of aging research, with cellular senescence as a unifying theme. The Discovery Science Theme builds on our legacy and past achievements while looking to the future by expanding our expertise into the investigation of other basic mechanisms of aging. The theme works closely with the programs within the center to advance discovery science into fundamental aging processes.

Research focus areas within the Discovery Science Theme include:

  • Establishing a common resource for single-cell molecular phenotyping. To fully understand the cellular specificity and complexity of tissue microenvironments during aging, it is necessary to measure molecular signatures with single-cell resolution. Ongoing technological advances are providing unprecedented opportunities to analyze the complexities of biological systems at the single-cell level (for example, proteome, transcriptome and epigenome). The center aims to be at the forefront of this technological revolution and invest in new platforms for single-cell molecular phenotyping. More importantly, it supports specialized investigators capable of maintaining and building on such resources.
  • Expanding pioneering work on cellular senescence. Previous work in the center established cellular senescence as a key driver of aging and age-related pathology, which ultimately led to the development of senolytic drugs. While there is great promise in the therapeutic application of senolytic drugs, there are potential pitfalls related to specificity to different senescent subtypes and cell types. In this theme, we're building on our previous accomplishments and investing in the design and discovery of novel, more selective ways to target senescent cells. One potential avenue of great promise is to comprehensively identify cell-surface proteins that are specifically upregulated in senescent cells, which can then be targeted by the immune system. The theme supports initiatives aiming to profile the surfacome of senescent cells from different cell types. In addition, it is partnering with experts in immunology, vaccine development and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy at Mayo Clinic and elsewhere to explore novel therapeutic avenues that target senescent cells.
  • Developing a bioinformatic approach to understanding aging. Probing the complexity of the aging process calls for an approach that effectively combines the strengths of the reductionist and integrative strategies. For that goal to be achieved, a multidisciplinary approach is essential involving close collaboration among biologists and computer scientists. These interactions will be increasingly important given the current technological advances in single-cell molecular profiling. The discovery theme seeks to further expand the center's capabilities in different aspects of computational biology, including analysis of large data sets, analytical software development and artificial intelligence. As part of this effort, we aim to establish closer partnerships with the Department of Artificial Intelligence and Informatics and the Biomedical Imaging Resource Core, along with external partners in the private sector.
  • Expanding expertise in basic mechanisms of aging. The theme aims to establish strategic partnerships with the basic science departments within Mayo Clinic, the Center for Biomedical Discovery and others. We support and nurture new opportunities aiming to investigate cross-talk between diverse fundamental aging mechanisms, such as telomere dysfunction, apoptosis and autophagy impairment. We also aim to establish closer partnerships with other aging centers both nationally and internationally focused on discovery science.

The theme director is Joao Passos, Ph.D.