Boulianne discovered the cause of oxidative damage to cells, using the fruit fly as a model. Fruit flies have a similar nervous system to humans and have many genes in common.
Scientists have long known that the degenerative effect over time which oxygen has on our cells is a factor in aging and lifespan. Boulianne demonstrated not only that nerve cells are a "weak link" for damage by oxidation, but that a single gene is responsible for this process. By inserting fruit flies with a human gene known to protect against oxidative damage, Boulianne and her team were able to increase the normal lifespan of the fruit fly by 40%. This has great significance in scientific understanding not only of the natural aging process, but of degenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's.
Sources: Dr. Boulianne’s website, Women at the Frontiers of Exxcellence, U of T Bulletin June 22, 1998; Image: Dept. of Medical Genetics and Microbiology, U of T.
- Senior Scientist
- Hospital For Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario
- BSc, McGill University, 1982
- PhD (Medical Biophysics), U of Toronto, 1988
- Genetics Society of Canada Young Scientist Award, 2000
- Medical Research Council of Canada Scientist Award, 2000
- Last Updated
- September 17, 2015
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