If you asked Jason Hadley why he wanted to be an aging researcher, he would respond that aging is the key to stopping other diseases.
“Aging is not this inevitable process, it’s like any other disease that has a program and you can alter that program,” he said. “It also has a lot of crossover with other diseases. People are studying cancer or heart disease but what if you can nail it before it happens?”
He was attracted to UT Health San Antonio because of our Biology of Aging discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program.
“It’s one of the few schools that has a strong aging program,” he said.
Hadley wasn’t always interested in aging research, he learned about it during his work in industry at Argos Therapeutics where he was working on clinical trials (phase 3) testing a novel personalized cell vaccine for the treatment of Hepatocellular carcinoma.
“I learned about Dr. Zelton Sharp’s work on rapamycin and that stirred my interest in aging research,” he said.
Currently, he’s in Dr. Lily Dong’s lab looking at Adiponectin, a hormone secreted from adipose tissue. The serum concentration of adiponectin is significantly reduced in type 2 diabetic and obese patients.
A number of studies have shown that adiponectin is an insulin sensitizer by enhancing insulin sensitivity, suggesting that the molecules in adiponectin signal pathways could be targets of therapeutic drug development for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
However, the molecular mechanism governing adiponectin action is largely unknown. His research is focused on a novel protein that seems to be positively related to insulin sensitivity.
“Insulin sensitivity is important for the obesity epidemic which is happening worldwide,” he said.
“We don’t know if metabolic dysfunction is a cause or consequence of aging and I think my research is interesting because I study an extremely low abundant depalmitoylase that appears to have dramatic effects on macrophage function and systemic metabolism. Studying this enzyme opens a new door in understanding how metabolism and immunology intersect which hopefully will translate to new therapeutic strategies for combating metabolic diseases in the future.”
Our research interest is mainly focused on: 1) the elucidation of the molecular pathway(s) mediating adiponectin signaling in cells and in vivo; and 2) the investigation of the molecular mechanism of the cross-talk between insulin signaling pathway and adiponectin signaling pathway.
In the future, Hadley would like to pursue a postdoc in the aging or immuno-metabolism field.
“These are the two fields that I like the most but my long term goal is to work at an aging institute, it’s a growing field.”
This article was written by Charlotte Anthony, marketing specialist at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio. This article is part of the “Meet The Researcher” series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.