Monthly Member Spotlight

Q&A with Laura Haynes Ph.D from Farmington, CT USA

Le Couteur

Q: How long have you been a GSA member? What GSA member benefit do you like best and why?  OR Why did you become a member and what type of involvement do you have? 
A: I have been a member for 4 years. My favorite GSA benefit is our annual meeting because I get to hear about all of the exciting new science that is happening. I became a member because my research was moving from more basic studies of aging and immunity towards more translational apects of how aging and senescence impact immunity. I am involved with the Biological Sciences section and I am a member of the Public Policy committee.

Q: How has membership in GSA benefited you? OR How does GSA assist with your professional development?
A: Membership has benefited me by expanding my networking with both basic aging scientists and gerontologists.

Q: How did you get interested in the field of aging?
A: I have been studying how aging impacts immunity for almost 30 years, beginning when I was a new postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Susan Swain at UCSD. We began studying how aging impacts the function of CD4 helper T cells in mice and this has now evolved into studying how aging impacts all aspects of the response to infections such as influenza.

Q: How do you feel GSA serves the field of gerontology and aging research? OR Why is it important for other individuals to join GSA? 
A: It is important for people to join GSA in order to be able to submit abstracts and attend the annual GSA meeting. Everyone in my laboratory is a member and we all usually attend. This is a great opportunity for students, post doctoral fellows and trainees to both learn great science and network to make connections that will serve them for the rest of their careers.

Q: Are you a member of a GSA Interest Group? If so, which ones? 
A: I am a member of the GeroSciences interest group.

Q: What are your key responsibilities at your job?
A: I am a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. I teach and carry out NIH funded research. I also oversee the UConn Center on Aging biomarker core.

Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists? 
A: Be persistent and never give up if you think your research has value. Many new insights take a long while to be accepted by the scientific community. 

Q: Tell us a little about your most recent activities/accomplishments. 
A: We are investigating how influenza infection contributes to physical disability, which is worse with increasing age. When older adults are hospitalized with influenza infection, they often are discharged needing assistance with walking such as a cane or walker. We have shown that influenza infection has a negative impact on gene expression in skeletal muscle and that this  accompanies the loss of physical function, including strength and mobility. Current studies are probing the mechanisms involved and how these can be mitigated so that older adults do not lose their ability to take care of themselves after influenza infection.

Q: Have you had an important mentor in your career? If so, how did s/he make a difference?
A: My most important mentor was my post doc mentor Dr. Susan Swain. She has always been my advocate and she provided me with numerous opportunities to make significant contributions and this continues to this present day.

Twitter: @LabHaynes


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