JCVI: Research / Projects / The Rudy Ruggles Systems Biology Study to Identify and Elucidate Healthy Aging Biomarkers / Overview
Section Banner

The Rudy Ruggles Systems Biology Study to Identify and Elucidate Healthy Aging Biomarkers


In addition to more comprehensively studied human genetic factors new paradigms that influence and perhaps define healthy aging in humans are emerging. First, a healthy microbiome interacts with the human immune system establishing protective activities when necessary, for example the elimination of invading pathogens and aberrantly proliferating cells, but tolerating the co-existence with symbiotic microbes and abrogating harmful auto-immune responses. Second, low-grade chronic inflammation in humans is a risk factor for the development of more serious diseases that reduce life spans.

Powerful “omics” technologies examining these new paradigms are now available and allow us to identify signatures (or biomarkers) indicative and even predictive of longevity. These biomarkers will eventually be converted into cost-saving, clinically useful tests. A joint JCVI & Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) team will perform the first study focused on a group of elderly individuals correlating genetics with human “omics” profiles and the gut microbiome, and will integrate this data with the analysis of health status of the human subjects as recorded by primary care physicians. Biomarkers in the human genome, microbiome and proteome that can be correlated with health and disease will be surveyed. The cohorts will be recruited by a team of physicians at WCHN.  For one healthy elderly cohort and one not-healthy elderly cohort, distinguished based on the diagnosis of at least one major disease in the age range 65-82 (cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, cancer and diabetes), samples from the body fluids saliva (to study the oral microbiome), blood plasma (to study the plasma cytokinome), and urine (to study the urinary proteome) in addition to stool (to study the gut microbiome) are collected and will be analyzed. Single nucleotide polymorphism analysis (genome) and a survey on estimated dietary intake and health status metadata recorded by primary care physicians will also be integrated into the system biology and biomarker identification study.

Principal Investigators

Rember Pieper

Karen Nelson


Joann Petrini
Western Connecticut Health Network