UMDNJ - New Jersey Medical School Researcher
Recognized by Ellison Medical Foundation
NEWARK — Utz Herbig, Ph.D., a researcher with the New Jersey Medical School-University Hospital Cancer Center, has been selected as an Ellison Medical Foundation Scholar on Aging. The honor carries with it a $200,000 grant to continue Dr. Herbig’s research on cellular senescence and its impact on aging. A resident of Livingston, Dr. Herbig also serves as an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at UMDNJ - New Jersey Medical School.
“Dr. Herbig’s selection as an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging is a great honor for us at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School,” said NJMS Interim Dean Dr. Robert Johnson. “Dr. Herbig serves as an example of the top-notch talent we have at NJMS and the type of cutting-edge and life-enhancing work that is being carried out in our laboratories every day.”
Chosen from a competitive field of applicants from around the United States, Dr. Herbig’s research focuses on aging and telomere damage which leads to cell senescence or deterioration. Telomeres are crucial to the life of the cell. They are the sequences at the tips of chromosomes that serve to protect and stabilize chromosome ends. With every cell division, telomeres progressively shorten until they reach a critical length that prevents further cell growth.
Dr. Herbig’s research studies whether cellular senescence affects multiple organ systems and, therefore, if it could be a contributing and causative factor of aging. His research also seeks to determine the causes of telomere shortening and dysfunction in aging organisms. The findings from Dr. Herbig’s research could possibly lead to the discovery of novel therapies aimed at treating age-related conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
“Human aging is marked by a progressive loss of tissue structure and function, however the causes of tissue degeneration remain poorly understood,” Dr. Herbig said. “My research is aimed at analyzing how much cellular senescence contributes to aging and at uncovering the stresses that cause cellular senescence in living organisms. With this knowledge in hand it, hopefully, will be possible to combat certain diseases associated with old age.”
Dr. Herbig, a native of Munich, Germany, joins the ranks of past Scholars on Aging from, among other places, Harvard University, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University and Cornell University.
The Ellison Medical Foundation, a non-profit corporation established and supported by Lawrence J. Ellison, funds basic biological and biomedical research on aging. New Scholar awards provide support for newly independent investigators in the first three years after their postdoctoral training. New scholar awards provide funding up to $50,000 per year for a four-year period. Applications are made by invitation only.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were mo re than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.