Professor Robert W. Williams of UTHSC Receives More Than $2.5 Million for Genetics Research

Dr. Robert Williams and his research team have received a more than $2.5 million grant to study the genetics of diet and aging.

Dr. Robert Williams and his research team have received a more than $2.5 million grant to study the genetics of diet and aging.

Robert W. Williams, PhD, professor in the Departments of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and director of the UT Center for Integrative and Translational Genomics, aims to make significant headway in studying  the genetics of diet and aging, thanks to a new grant. The award, from the National Institute on Aging, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), totals $2,545,349. It will fund his five-year study entitled, “Translational Systems Genetics of Mitochondria, Metabolism, and Aging.”

Dr. Williams and his research team, which includes Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH, and Khyobeni Mozhui, PhD, both from the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine, as well as one of the world’s pre-eminent experts on metabolism, Johan Auwerx, MD, PhD, professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, are studying the impact of high- and low-fat diets on aging and the role of genetic difference on mitochondrial function as age progresses. This grant will enable the team to tease apart the complex molecular pathways that control life span in three very different species —humans, mice, and C. elegans roundworms. The team’s research was featured in the May 23 issue of Nature, a leading science journal.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.