MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Tamir Chandra Research Group

Systems Biology of Ageing and Disease

Tamir Chandra
Dr Tamir Chandra

Section: Biomedical Genomics

Research in a Nutshell 

Ageing is the biggest risk factor for neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and cancer. To combat age-related disease we need to understand whether ageing is a biological programme that gets activated as our body matures or an inevitable consequence of wear and tear? The recent discovery that changes to a single gene can increase the lifespan in a variety of animals and the existence of very short-lived vertebrates such as the turquoise killifish, whose average life-span is just six months, seem to suggest that ageing may be partly predefined by a programme written into our DNA.

As humans age, we accumulate increasing numbers of stressed cells, called senescent cells, within our organs. These cells stop dividing and no longer perform their original function; as their number increases, the ability of an organ system to do its job may decrease. Recently a mouse model with severe ageing features, such as muscle loss and cataracts was “cured” through selective killing of senescent cells, suggesting that senescence is one of several cellular ageing mechanisms that contribute to the effects of ageing. We study mechanisms of ageing in a variety of cellular contexts, including cells isolated from older individuals (and even centenarians) and children suffering from premature ageing syndromes. Cells from healthy young individuals stop dividing after a certain number of cell divisions in culture (replicative senescence) or after exposing the cells to certain cellular stresses (oncogenic stimulus and stress-induced senescence).


Research Programme



Dr Tamir Chandra Group Leader
Nelly Olova Research Fellow
Nattaphong Rattanavirotkul PhD Student
Daniel Simpson PhD Student
Neil Robertson PhD student



  • Dr Peter Fraser, Babraham Institute, Cambridge 
  • Professor Nicola Neretti, Brown University 
  • Dr Martin Hemberg, Sanger Institute, Cambridge
  • Professor Peter Adams, University of Glasgow

Scientific Themes

Ageing, Cellular Senescence, Cancer, Systems Biology, Single Cell Genomics

Technology Expertise

Hi-C, Single Cell Genomics