News Release

$2.2 million in grants will support biomedical research on aging

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research's investment supports three major research initiative in partnership with the American Federation for Aging Research

Grant and Award Announcement

American Federation for Aging Research

Santa Barbara, CA and New York, NY--The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) announce the 2020 recipients of three grant programs: the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grants for Junior Faculty, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowships in Aging Research, and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Awards. Collectively, these three grant programs will provide close to $2.2 million in support of biomedical research on healthy aging.

The Grants for Junior Faculty provide early career investigators with up to $100,000 to support research focused on aging processes and age-related diseases. Ten grants are awarded in 2020.

The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowships in Aging Research support postdoctoral fellows who study basic research mechanisms of aging and/or translational findings that have potential to directly benefit human health. This year, ten $60,000 Fellowships are awarded.

The Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Awards provide $300,000 for research projects that offer significant promise of yielding transforming discoveries in the fundamental biology of aging. Two awards are made in 2020.

A complete listing of the 2020 recipients can be found below.

The awardees are selected by committees of distinguished scientists working in the field of aging research. A meticulous, scientifically rigorous review process ensures that only the most promising science is supported.

"The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR have strategically structured these grants to support research along a continuum: from very basic studies of model systems, molecules, and cells, to studies that are building on very early stage translational research addressing human aging and healthspan," notes Stephanie Lederman, EdM, AFAR Executive Director.

"The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research is pleased to recognize these 2020 grant recipients for their research to explore innovative ideas and to develop novel approaches aimed at helping us live healthier, longer," notes Mark R. Collins, President of The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research.

To date, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research has invested close to $30 million and supported 559 investigators through these three and other initiatives. Notably, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR have collaborated for nearly four decades. In addition to establishing the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the late Paul F. Glenn was a founding member of the AFAR Board of Directors. AFAR and the Glenn Foundation also co-host annual scientific meetings in Santa Barbara to foster the exchange of ideas and to promote new scientific collaborations.

2020 Grant Recipients

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grants for Junior Faculty

  • Berenice Benayoun, PhD, Assistant Professor Of Gerontology, University of Southern California
    A genome-to-phenome toolkit to accelerate research into aging in a naturally short-lived vertebrate model

  • Frederick Bennett, MD, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
    Microglia replacement to understand and treat brain aging

  • Adam Bohnert, PhD, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University
    Reversal of age-related mitochondrial damage in the C. elegans germline

  • Christina Camell, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota ¬
    Aged Adipose B cells, inflammation and impaired metabolism

  • Zhixun Dou, PhD, Assistant Professor, Massachusetts General Hospital
    Nuclear autophagy and senescence-associated inflammation

  • Shenghui He, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    The role of epigenetic inheritance in shaping the transcriptional and epigenetic landscapes of the aging murine hematopoietic system

  • Michael Lodato, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School
    Single-cell analysis of transcriptional instability and somatic mutation in human neurons

  • Claudia Moreno, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Washington
    Aging one cell at a time: Heterogeneous aging behind the electrical dysfunction of the heart's pacemaker

  • Peter Van Galen, PhD, Assistant Professor Of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital
    Epigenetic mechanisms of stem cell expansion in the aging hematopoietic system

  • Megan Weivoda, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Dentistry
    Targeting and eliminating senescent pre-tumor cells to prevent cancer

Additional major funders of the Grants for Junior Faculty include: The AFAR Board of Directors, The James A. and Dorothy R. Brunn Foundation, David W. Gore, The Hearst Foundation, Diana Jacobs Kalman, the Irving Kahn Fund, The Marion Esser Kaufmann Foundation, Diane Nixon, and The Irving S. Wright Endowment.

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellowships in Aging Research

  • Wei-Wen Chen, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Investigating the connection between fat metabolism and aging process with broadband coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (BCARS) imaging

  • Cara Green, PhD, Research Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Genes and genetic variants that determine the metabolic response to dietary protein

  • Johanna Heid, PhD, Research Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    Single-cell triple omics analysis of the aging genome, epigenome and transcriptome

  • Seokjo Kang, PhD, Postdoctoral Scientist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
    The Role of CCL11 in Aging-Associated Microglial Reactivity

  • Dunja Mrdjen, PhD, MsC, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University
    The cellular landscape of brain aging and Alzheimer's disease through multiplexed ion beam imaging

  • Cana Park, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco
    Mechanisms of klotho and platelet activation to counter cognitive aging

  • Koning Shen, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Berkeley
    The role of lysosomal to mitochondrial communication in health and aging

  • Ruth Singer, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate, The Rockefeller University
    Shedding light on the role of RNA binding protein-mediated RNA regulation in synaptic plasticity and aging

  • Matthew Tierney, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Rockefeller University
    Interrogating the functional role of aged stem cell niche interactions in the hair follicle

  • Kyohei Tokizane, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Washington University
    Investigating the role of dorsomedial hypothalamus in mammalian aging

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Awards

  • Malene Hansen, PhD, Professor, Sanford Burnham Medical Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.
    Non-canonical functions of autophagy genes in organismal lifespan

  • Vittorio Sebastiano, PhD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology - Reproductive Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine
    Epigenetic reprogramming of cellular aging as a novel paradigm to treat aging and aging-associated diseases


About the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research - Founded by Paul F. Glenn in 1965, the mission of the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research is to extend the healthy years of life through research on mechanisms of biology that govern normal human aging and its related physiological decline, with the objective of translating research into interventions that will extend healthspan with lifespan. Learn more at

About AFAR - The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) is a national non-profit organization that supports and advances pioneering biomedical research that is revolutionizing how we live healthier and longer. For nearly four decades, AFAR has served as the field's talent incubator, providing more than $181 million to more than 4,200 investigators at premier research institutions nationwide. A trusted leader and strategist, AFAR also works with public and private funders to steer high quality grant programs and interdisciplinary research networks. AFAR-funded researchers are finding that modifying basic cellular processes can delay--or even prevent--many chronic diseases, often at the same time. They are discovering that it is never too late--or too early--to improve health. This groundbreaking science is paving the way for innovative new therapies that promise to improve and extend our quality of life--at any age. Learn more at or follow AFARorg on Twitter and Facebook.

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