22 Nov 2016
HEIDI DOUGLASS | firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Leader of CHeBA’s Molecular Biology group at CHeBA, Dr Nady Braidy continued his outstanding research record when he was awarded an Australian Research Council/Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) this month.
The award provides funding for Dr Braidy to continue his ground-breaking research in the field of sirtuins. Sirtuins, or “silent information regulators” of gene transcription, are enzymes found in all life. Accumulating evidence suggests that they are key regulators of stress resistance, cell division and repair, and cell death. Gene silencing by the sirtuin protein is directly correlated with longer lifespans in yeast and worms. While the first member of the sirtuin family, SIRT1, has been extensively studied, Dr Braidy’s research will investigate another sirtuin, the under-researched SIRT2.
“My research was the first to show that intracellular levels of NAD+, which is the essential substrate or reactant allowing sirtuins like SIRT2 to work, decline with age in humans and physiologically aged rats,” said Dr Braidy.
Exactly how SIRT2 functions under physiological and pathological conditions is currently unclear according to Dr Braidy, although it appears to be significant for brain health. Previous research showed that SIRT2 is indirectly associated with chronic oxidative stress and inflammation, both known factors in cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s and dementia in particular.
Building on his existing work, including his well-established Wistar “aged rat” model, Dr Braidy plans to investigate how pharmacological strategies designed to elevate intracellular NAD+ levels will maintain optimal SIRT2 function to extend lifespan and improve age-related cognitive decline in vivo.
“The timeliness and relevance of sirtuins to a rapidly ageing population is indicated by our publications in this field having already received over 200 citations in the last 3 years,” said Dr Braidy.
The DECRA funding is the most recent accolade for Dr Braidy, who was previously selected by the Australian Academy of Science to attend the Nobel Laureate meeting in 2014, received a National Health and Medical Research Council early career postdoctoral fellowship and won the UNSW Medicine Dean’s Rising Star award.