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Tissue Mapping Center for Cellular Senescence Launched at Yale Cancer Center to Study Human Lymphoid Organs

October 20, 2021

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a grant to fund cellular senescence research in lymphoid organs at Yale Cancer Center. The five-year, $6.5 million grant will help generate multiscale molecular and cellular maps of cellular senescence in primary and secondary human lymphoid organs to improve our understanding of cellular senescence in development, aging, and disease, including cancer.

Cellular senescence is a state in which cells can no longer divide. This permanent state creates both benefits and detriments for the organism in which the cells live. So called “senescent” cells are involved in normal biological processes and chronic diseases connected with aging such as cancer and neurodegeneration.

“We are excited to work together with the NIH on this important project as lymphoid organs play a vital role in producing blood cells and immune function,” said Rong Fan, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Pathology, a member of Yale Cancer Center and Principal Investigator of the study. “How these cells impact the tissue environments remain poorly understood, making it difficult to develop strategies to target senescent cells to battle aging and cancer or harness these cells or secreted factors to promote normal tissue remodeling and repair.”

The NIH award (1U54AG076043-01) is titled “Yale Tissue Mapping Center (TMC) for Cellular Senescence in Lymphoid Organs.” It’s funded by the Cellular Senescence Network (SenNet), part of a new consortium from the NIH Common Fund program established to comprehensively identify and characterize the differences in senescent cells across the body, across various states of human health, and across the lifespan. Yale is one of eight Tissue Mapping Centers for the creation of the NIH SenNet Consortium.

“This SenNet grant will help accelerate our ability to dissect heterogeneous senescent cells and build the first tissue map of these cells in human lymph tissues,” said Stephanie Halene, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Hematology) and Chief of Hematology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital and Co-Principal Investigator of the study. “This research could one day provide insights to the role of senescent immune cells in development, aging, or disease, and to discover new treatments to target cellular senescence to treat a wide range of chronic diseases or cancers that would be difficult to achieve individually.”

The TMC will consist of a biospecimen core led by Halene and Mina Xu, MD, a biological analysis core led by Fan and Joseph Craft, MD, and a data analysis component led by Yuval Kluger, PhD.

To learn more about the TMC launch with Dr. Fan: Q&A: Rong Fan on “senescent” cells and Yale’s new Tissue Mapping Center | Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science

Submitted by Anne Doerr on October 19, 2021