UMaine professor lands large grant for aging research

ORONO, Maine (WABI) - A UMaine professor has landed a large grant that could lead to breakthroughs when it comes to diabetes and obesity.

Neurobiologist Kristy Townsend will get $750,000 from the American Heart Association for a project with Jackson Lab.

They'll study the fat tissue of older mice.

They've found that over time the tissue can lose its nerve supply, which impacts communication with the brain and can lead to obesity and diabetes.

The study hopes to find ways to reverse that process.

"There's a lot of aging research going on in Maine right now," said Townsend. "We have the oldest median age of any state in the country and so this is a molecular project looking at aging. Not just looking at how we can improve the care of the elderly as they get older but also to look at the mechanisms behind healthy aging and how it might be able to promote more healthy aging in Maine's population and how that might even relate to metabolism. So, healthy diet and exercise things like that."

Much of the work on this project is being done by Maine students.

Townsend hopes this work inspires other students to follow suit and get involved with the cutting edge projects the school is taking on.