The research of Allyson K. Palmer, M.D., Ph.D., focuses on the role that cellular aging, or cellular senescence, plays in age-related diseases. Given that aging is a leading risk factor of most chronic diseases, Dr. Palmer is interested in approaches and therapies that target basic aging mechanisms to prevent or treat age-related diseases.
Her research focuses on the role that cellular senescence plays in age-related metabolic and neurologic dysfunction. As a geriatrician, who practices primarily in the hospital, Dr. Palmer's research optimizes the care that older adults receive while hospitalized.
- Delirium. Dr. Palmer's research determines whether accumulation of aged, senescent cells put older adults at a higher risk of developing delirium or acute confusion. This risk can be increased when faced with stressors such as surgery, infection or hospitalization.
- Type 2 diabetes. Dr. Palmer's research focuses on senescent cells as a novel target for therapies to treat or prevent type 2 diabetes. Her research investigates the utility of novel drugs that eliminate senescent cells, called senolytics, in the prevention or treatment of type 2 diabetes.
- Optimizing hospital care of older adults. An additional area of focus for Dr. Palmer and her colleagues is the care of hospitalized older adults, specifically those with cognitive dysfunction or dementia. Dr. Palmer is involved in efforts to improve detection and recognition of dementia and delirium, and to prevent adverse effects of cognitive dysfunction in the hospital.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Palmer's research stems from a desire to improve the lives and health care of older adults. Her research strives to prevent the onset or progression of age-related diseases that impact quality of life and years of healthy life lived, otherwise known as healthspan.
Dr. Palmer's research targets the fundamental aging mechanisms, such as cellular senescence. This can have a profound impact on human health by impacting multiple organ systems and diseases all at once, rather than one at a time.
Dr. Palmer's research is involved in the study of senolytics, where novel medicines eliminate senescent cells. Wider clinical translation of these therapies is needed to ensure safety and efficacy in humans.