Cellular, molecular, and biochemical principles of aging and age-related disease


We aim to understand aging and age-related diseases from the cellular, molecular, and biochemical levels. Cellular quality control systems respond to and resolve different types of cell stress and are important in maintaining our cellular homeostasis and overall health. However, these quality control systems or stress response pathways are often compromised in aging, causing various diseases. We ask whether we can solve the problem of aging by boosting cellular quality control systems. To answer this question, we are currently searching for all unknown cellular stress response mechanisms through unbiased approaches. Our goal is to combinatorically target multiple stress response pathways to maximize our resistance to cellular stress for healthy aging and for potential treatment of age-related diseases. Our recent discoveries include an essential rapid lysosomal repair pathway (the PITT pathway) in response to lysosomal damage and a conserved ion channel function of stimulator of interferon genes (STING) in non-canonical autophagy which is activated in many conditions including infection, cellular damage, senescence, or age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Within the next five years, we will focus on the mechanistic investigation of two processes: (1) lysosomal quality control in response to diverse cellular stress stimuli, and (2) STING-mediated non-canonical autophagy and cell death. We search for essential, unifying principles behind complex stress responses, and dissect the underlying mechanisms using multidisciplinary methods including molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics. Unbiased screens, molecular cloning, cell engineering, and microscopic imaging are among the major strengths of our lab. Structural analysis and functional mutagenesis are integral parts of all our projects. Lipid signaling and membrane biology are also incorporated into all directions.




  • S. in Science with Honors from Nanjing University (China), 2005-2009
  • D. in Molecular and cellular Pharmacology from University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009-2015
  • Postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in the laboratory of Zhijian James Chen, 2016-2019
  • Research faculty training at the University of Pittsburgh in the laboratory of Toren Finkel, 2019-2022


Aging Institute
100 Technology Drive, Room 457
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-624-2291
Email: Jay.Tan@Pitt.edu

Website link: jaytanlab.org