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LifespanIO – The Present & Future of Epigenetic Clocks

Dr. Steve Horvath hardly needs an introduction, so we will be brief: he is the inventor of the epigenetic clock and, currently, principal investigator at Altos Labs. We talked about the recent developments in this immensely important field, including pan-mammalian clocks, two-species clocks, and single-cell clocks, along with the challenges the field faces.

You are a mathematician by training. How did you end up studying biology and the biology of aging in particular?

I was already interested in aging research as a teenager, but my first love was math. Over the years, I became more and more applied. After getting a PhD in mathematics, I retrained and got a second PhD in statistical genetics. While working at UCLA, I turned into a bioinformatician. These days, I view myself as a biologist and biogerontologist. My lab generates lots of data which we distribute via Gene Expression Omnibus to the public. As you see, every year, I become more applied…

Let us get to what you are most famous for, which is epigenetic clocks. This field keeps developing at a stunning speed. I watch talks from a few months ago and I see that a lot of things have already changed since then. So, could you give us a quick update?

In my lab, we are interested in third-generation clocks. We are looking for clocks that apply to multiple species at the same time. For example, universal pan-mammalian clocks. Several groups, including mine, are working on single cell methylation clocks. Many researchers are building clocks that respond to lifestyle interventions, such as exercise. Moving away from methylation, it would be nice to build similar clocks for other ‘omics’ data. Many researchers build clocks on the basis of other omics data, such as for chromatin, proteomics, and gene expression…

The full interview is available here:

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