University: We Make Lives Better

Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies

Catherine Cheng


Catherine Cheng

Mentor: Jim Nelson, Ph.D., Professor of Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Hometown: Arcadia, CA
Undergraduate University: Cornell University
Degrees Earned: B.S., Biological Sciences

My Research Interests:

The female survival advantage is one of the most robust characteristics of human longevity. Studies of human populations have demonstrated varying sex differentials in mortality with age. While lifestyles and risk exposures have changed over time, this survival advantage has persisted, suggesting that there is a biological basis for the sex mortality differential. However, the mechanistic underpinnings of sex differences remain unclear. My research comprises the search for genetic and hormonal factors that affect health and lifespan using a genetically heterogeneous mouse model, a model of unique relevance to aging research due to its use in studies conducted by the NIA’s Interventions Testing Program to evaluate the efficacy of potential lifespan-extending compounds.

Why I’m Excited to Study Aging:

The very idea that we can study aging in many ways like any other biological process is a thrilling prospect; if we can understand it, then we can improve upon it. From a practical perspective, delaying the onset of aging is the most efficient solution for age-associated chronic diseases so prevalent in our increasingly long-lived populations. From a more romantic perspective, joining the search for methods of extending lifespan/healthspan is exhilarating because it allows us to rigorously pursue an idea that has captured the human imagination for millennia.

My Future Goals:

After my graduate studies, I would like to focus my efforts on developing tools that facilitate the translation of aging research innovations into the clinic.

Awards and Honors:

  • 2013 Glenn Foundation Doctoral Student Fellowship in the Biology of Aging, UTHSCSA
  • 2008-2012 Hunter R. Rawlings III Presidential Research Scholar, Cornell University


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The Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies

15355 Lambda Drive
San Antonio, Texas  78245
P: 210-562-6140 F: 210-562-6150

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