My name is Daron Yim, and I am a neuroscience major at the College of Wooster. At my home institution, I research genetic factors of Alzheimer’s using the fruit fly as a model organism. My experience researching fruit flies has brought me to Dr. Pankaj Kapahi’s lab in the Buck Institute for Research on Aging through the SRF Summer Scholars program. Under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Hodge, I am using the fruit fly to study the links between diet and aging.
Our goal is to characterize age-associated degeneration of the eye and to identify how dietary restriction protects against this. To see the rate at which the eye breaks down with age, we look for eye proteins that leak into the body of the fly over time. This rate is normally slower when the diet of the fly is restricted in some way. We then genetically alter the fly to see what factors are necessary for dietary restriction to have this effect. The lifespans of these flies are also measured to correlate the observed degeneration with aging and longevity. This is exciting new research in that this link between eye health, diet, and lifespan has not yet been studied.