Joel Maruniak

Joel Maruniak
Associate Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

PhD, 1977 University of Texas

Research Summary

Production and plasticity of adult neuronal cells

Research Description

Our research focuses on neurogenesis in adult rodents. We are particularly interested in the unique plasticity of this system in adults. We believe that this unique plasticity is endowed by another unique property of the adult olfactory system: it possesses two populations of neurons that experience normal cell death and replacement. The receptor neurons in the nose, and the granule neurons in the brain, routinely undergo turnover of their population. We are interested in what factors affect the neurogenesis of these two populations.

Another area we are interested in is how caloric restriction (CR) retards aging and increases longevity. It is known that aging and longevity are determined in large part by the loss of segments of telomeres from the ends of chromosomes each time a cell divides. Thus, the telomeres represent a kind of molecular clock that ticks down during each cell division. Our hypothesis is that CR reduces the average rate of cell division. Furthermore, we believe that such a decrease in average rate of cell division could explain the 25% or so increase in life span commonly reported for animals experiencing CR. We want to determine whether the average rates of neurogenesis and somatic mitosis are slowed by CR.

Awards and Honors

Excellence in Advising Award 2010

Osage Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching 2006

Arts and Science Blue Chalk Award for Excellence in Advising 2001

Honorary Member of Mortar Board 2000

Excellence in Education Award 1998

Osage Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching 1997

Kemper Fellow for Excellence in Teaching 1995

Arts and Science Blue Chalk Award for Excellence in Advising 1989

Selected Publications