We are using a diverse set of biological and genetic techniques to better understand longevity, aging, and the onset of age-associated diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Our studies are conducted in mice, which are exceptional models because they share a high degree of genetic similarity with humans, exhibit short life spans, and enable investigators to efficiently control environmental factors - among them is diet. The long-term goals of our research are to enhance knowledge of aging as a biological process and to develop novel interventions that promote healthy longevity.

Recent Awards

Carolyn Berdanier Undergraduate Research Grant, UGA College of Family & Consumer Sciences, 2017, Emily Owen and Shriya Bhatnagar (Mentor: Rob Pazdro)

June and Bill Flatt Nutrition Excellence Graduate Fellowship, UGA College of Family & Consumer Sciences, 2017, Rebecca Gould

Ruth Rowan Morrison Graduate Endowment in Nutrition Studies and Anne and Earl Haltiwanger Scholarship, UGA College of Family & Consumer Sciences, 2017, Rebecca Gould

Faculty Mentoring Undergraduate Research Award, UGA College of Family & Consumer Sciences, 2015, Rob Pazdro

University of Georgia Amazing Student, 2016, Whitney Okie (Mentor: Rob Pazdro)

View all Foods and Nutrition Awards

Our Current Research Projects

Investigators:
Robert Pazdro, Rebecca Gould, and Ernesto Ornelas

Description:
We will address the following specific aims: 1) to quantify the heritability of core GSH phenotypes in a genetically diverse population; 2) to define genomic regions associated with the GSH system, and delineate shared and tissue-specific loci; and 3) to prioritize candidate genes, and initiate functional analyses of the most compelling candidates. These studies will define the fundamental genetic architecture of an indispensable biochemical system that governs cellular stress resistance and survival. Knowledge gained from these efforts will inform a series of future clinical and mechanistic studies aimed at understanding the impact of GSH genes on cellular damage during stress, and the data will build a foundation for innovative therapies to maintain tissue integrity in patients with degenerative diseases, thereby increasing their health spans and improving their qualities of life.

Funding Source:
R01 GM121551 National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Investigators:
Robert Pazdro and Kristen Peissig

Description:
Our overarching hypothesis predicts that the GDF11 paradigm, wherein changes in GDF11 levels drive age-related cardiac hypertrophy, is strongly influenced by genetic factors. To test that hypothesis, we will use the revolutionary Diversity Outbred (DO) stock, and its eight founder strains, to address the following specific aims: 1) To validate the relationship between GDF11 and cardiac hypertrophy, and to test whether the relationship is dependent on genetic background; and 2) To define the genetic architecture of GDF11 levels using the DO, and to contrast the results against the genes that underlie cardiac hypertrophy. For each aim, we will use mass spectrometry to distinguish and quantify GDF11 and myostatin, enabling us to unambiguously differentiate between these proteins and to characterize the unique effects of GDF11 on age-related cardiac hypertrophy. These studies will reveal the underlying genetic contributors to circulating GDF11 levels, and the identification of novel genes will add critical and fresh insights into the fundamental biological pathways that couple advanced age and cardiac hypertrophy. Knowledge gained from these efforts will directly contribute to the ultimate goal of developing effective treatment strategies against age-related cardiovascular disease.

Funding Source:
R56 AG053309 National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging

Meet the Staff

Name Job Title / Department Contact
Robert Pazdro

Robert Pazdro

Assistant Professor

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dr. Robert Pazdro is an Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program Director and Undergraduate Coordinator

302 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-7504

Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Lizabeth Gould

PhD Student and Dietetic Intern

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

302 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
443-812-8492

Kristen Peissig

Kristen Beverly Peissig

Research Professional

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

302 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
214-608-3977

No photo

Isabella Patricia Coletta

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

302 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
4043165919

No photo

Ernesto Carlos Ornelas

Undergrad Research Assistant

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
6788639029