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Understanding the aging process will help us to better manage and treat the chronic diseases of aging which put an important burden on our societies.
— Pr. Johan Auwerx, M.D., Ph.D

Pr. Johan Auwerx, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Johan Auwerx is Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he directs the Laboratory for Integrated and Systems Physiology (LISP). Dr. Auwerx has been using molecular physiology and systems genetics to understand metabolism in health, aging and disease. Much of his work focused on understanding how diet, exercise and hormones control metabolism through changing the expression of genes by altering the activity of transcription factors and their associated cofactors. His work was instrumental for the development of agonists of nuclear receptors – a particular class of transcription factors – into drugs, which now are used to treat high blood lipid levels, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Auwerx was amongst the first to recognize that transcriptional cofactors, which fine-tune the activity of transcription factors, act as energy sensors/effectors that influence metabolic homeostasis. His research validated these cofactors as novel targets to treat metabolic diseases, and spurred the clinical use of natural compounds, such as resveratrol, as modulators of these cofactor pathways.

Johan Auwerx was elected as a member of EMBO in 2003 and is the recipient of a dozen of international scientific prizes, including the Danone International Nutrition Award, the Oskar Minkowski Prize, the Morgagni Gold Medal, and the Marcel Benoist Prize. His work is highly cited by his peers with a h-factor of over 120. He is an editorial board member of several journals, including Cell MetabolismMolecular Systems BiologyThe EMBO JournalThe Journal of Cell Biology, Cell, and Science.  Dr. Auwerx co-founded a handful of biotech companies, including CarexPhytoDia, and most recently Mitobridge, and has served on several scientific advisory boards.

Dr. Auwerx received both his MD and PhD in Molecular Endocrinology at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium. He was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics of the University of Washington in Seattle.

FOCUS AREAS

  • Our laboratory is using systems approaches to map the signaling networks that govern mitochondrial function and as such regulate organismal metabolism in health, aging and disease. We apply a state-of-the-art biological toolkit to study a variety of model systems, ranging from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, over the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the mouse all the way to humans. Our research has not only allowed the development of new methodologies and scientific approaches applied to population, as exemplified by the development of cross-species multi-layered genetics/omics gene mapping strategies, but also contributed to improved understanding of how signaling pathways control mitochondrial function and metabolism. Although our research addresses basic biomedical questions, my medical background facilitates the translation of our research into novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for common diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, frailty, and obesity, as well as rare inherited mitochondrial diseases. The translational value of our work is testified by the fact that several drugs targeting processes and pathways which we elucidated are currently used in the clinic.  

aging critical publications

  • R. H. Houtkooper, L. Mouchiroud, D. Ryu, N. Moullan, E. Katsyuba, G. Knott, R.W. Williams, J. Auwerx. Mitonuclear protein inbalance as a conserved longevity mechanism. Nature, 2013, 497, 451-457. PMC3663447

  • L. Mouchiroud, R.H. Houtkooper, N. Moullan, E. Katsyuba, D. Ryu, C. Canto, A. Mottis, Y.-S. Jo, M. Viswanathan, K. Schoonjans, L. Guarente, J. Auwerx The NAD+/sirtuin pathway modulates longevity through activation of mitochondrial UPR and FOXO signaling. Cell, 2013, 154, 430-441. PMC3753670

  • D. Ryu, L. Mouchiroud, P. Andreux, E. Katsyuba, N. Moullan, A. Nicolet, E. Williams, P. Jha, G. Lo Sasso, D. Huzard, P. Aebischer, C. Sandi, C. Rinsch*, J. Auwerx* (*co-corresponding). Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C.elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nature Med., 2016, 22, 879-88. PMID27400265

  • V. Sorrentino, M. Romani, L. Mouchiroud, J.S. Beck, H. Zhang, D. D'Amico, N. Moullan, F. Potenza, A.W. Schmid, S. Rietsch, S. E. Counts, J. Auwerx. Enhancing mitochondrial proteostasis reduced amyloid-beta proteotoxicity. 2017, Nature, 552, 187-193. PMID: 29211722

  • H. Zhang, D. Ryu, Y. Wu, K. Gariani, X. Wang, P. Luan, D. D'Amico, E.R. Ropelle, M.P. Lutolf, R. Aebersold, K. Schoonjans, K.J. Menzies*, J. Auwerx*. (*co-corresponding authors) NAD+ repletion improves mitochondrial and stem cell function and enhances lifespan in mice. Science, 2016, 352, 1436-43. PMID27127236