Date(s) - 04/02/2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Genomic Insights Into the Environmental Determinants of Health and Aging
Noah Snyder-Mackler, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences Center for Evolution and Medicine, Arizona State University
The vast majority of our close nonhuman relatives also live in highly social environments. Consequently, sociality has been a strong evolutionary force across the tree of life – individuals with high quality social relationships live healthier, longer lives, and produce more offspring. This raises a timely question: how does the social environment “get under the skin” to affect our health and mortality risk? This question, which is and has been the focus of my research, is necessary for improving disease prediction and prevention, understanding the causes and consequences of social inequality, and investigating the evolution of social group living and its relevance to human health. My lab addresses this question from a comparative angle, drawing on high-throughput genomic tools in socially complex animal models to identify the molecular mechanisms through which social experiences modify our physiology, health, and survival. This comparative evolutionary genomics approach allows me to identify how experiences alter the molecular machinery and function of our cells, at what point in the lifespan the environment exerts the strongest effects on our bodies, and which organ systems and cells are most affected by environmental exposures. Ultimately, I hope to use this knowledge to understand the mechanisms linked to the evolution of social group living as well as to find ways to mitigate the negative health effects of poor social experiences.
Noah Snyder-Mackler uses molecular genetic techniques to probe the dynamic interaction between the social environment and the genome with the aim of understanding the fitness consequences of behavioral variation. Broadly, his lab investigates the causes and consequences of variation in the social environment from the molecular to the organismal levels. His work involves two complementary study systems, which allow him to address questions central to human health, aging, and evolutionary biology.