Research/Areas of Interest:

Systems biology of aging in genetically variable populations


  • D.Phil., Zoology, University of Oxford
  • BA, Biology, University of Chicago


Dr. Daniel Promislow has worked for over 30 years on the biology of aging and brings to Tufts his expertise in quantitative genetics, biodemography, and comparative, systems and theoretical biology in aging research.

Dr. Promislow is noted for his ability to combine fundamental evolutionary concepts that explain why we age, with modern systems biology approaches to better understand how we age. His work centers on the problem of understanding the genetic basis of aging in natural, genetically variable populations, trying to determine whether mechanistic pathways that affect aging in lab-adapted, inbred organisms can account for the variation in rates of aging that we see in natural populations, including humans. Dr. Promislow is leading the way in the use of metabolomics – the study of the small molecules that circulate within an organism—as a bridge to link genes with rates of aging in natural populations. While beginning this systems biology approach to aging studies in flies, he translated those approaches to mice, marmosets, humans, and most recently, companion dogs.

Dr. Promislow is also the Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Dog Aging Project, which has recruited more than 50,000 dogs from across the US. This work has tremendous potential to create a better understanding of the causes and consequences of aging not only in dogs, but also in humans, given that dogs suffer from a very large number of the same diseases as humans, they live in the same environment, and medical care for dogs is second only to humans.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Dr. Promislow won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University, where he earned his doctoral degree in 1990. During his graduate work he began studying aging, publishing the first definitive comparative evidence that aging is widespread in natural populations, contrary to popular belief at the time. He then carried out post-doctoral work at Queen 's University in Canada, and at the University of Minnesota. It was during this time that he began studying the genetics of aging in the fruit fly, a widely used model system in aging.