Rui Xiao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aging and Geriatric Research. He was recently awarded with an NIH grant for to conduct research on the decline of olfactory as a result of aging.
Age-dependent olfactory decline, also known as presbyosmia, affects at least fifteen million Americans over 55 years old. People affected often show reduced social function, decreased appetite, and an overall decreased quality of life. Olfactory decline is also shown to put those affected at a higher risk for depression. Furthermore, many age-related neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, are commonly associated with olfactory dysfunction. In fact, olfactory loss often precedes various motoric symptoms in these deadly neurological diseases. The knowledge of age-related olfactory decline lacks the depth and understanding required to further improve public health.
Glial cells, one of the most abundant type of cell in the nervous system, provide support for neurons. Recently, research has opened new doors to a wide range of functions for glial throughout the nervous system. These functions are not yet well known. Rui Xiao and his lab will be working with C. elegans, a type of worm, to conduct new research. C. elegans is a well-established model organism for neuroscience and aging research due to its simple nervous system, short lifespan, and powerful genetic tools. His innovative studies on C. elegans glial cells in olfaction and age-associated olfactory decline will provide mechanistic insights into similar processes in other species.
For more information on Dr. Xiao and his research, visit his website.