AUTORHYTHM – the role of autophagy in healthy aging

The convergence environment will study the recycling system of our cells in time and space to improve people's health and life span.

Anne SimonsenAndreas CarlsonJorrit Enserink Helene Knævelsrud Michael A. RieglerMarie Elisabeth RognesAlexander Refsum Jensenius


An interdisciplinary approach is required to grasp complex processes essential to human health. One example is the multifactorial process of aging. As we age, the performance of our brain and other organs is hampered by the accumulation of protein aggregates and dysfunctional organelles. Autophagy is a catabolic pathway that can degrade such material. A reduction in autophagic capacity is a hallmark of aging, and studies in model organisms have shown that restoring this capacity can promote both health and lifespan. Therefore, modulating autophagic capacity holds great promise for the improvement of quality of life. However, to therapeutically exploit autophagy to prolong a healthy life span, we need to address several key questions that experimental biology alone cannot solve. First, given that autophagy is a powerful degradative process, it must be carefully regulated. Yet the mechanisms by which organisms maintain safe thresholds of life-beneficial and life-detrimental autophagy remain mysterious. Second, while mathematical modeling has revealed important biological insights that have already resulted in clinical benefit, current mathematical models of autophagy fall short in their predictive power. Finally, implementation of mathematical models of autophagy in health- and lifespan studies remains largely unexplored.

Primary objective

  • The primary objective of AUTORHYTHM is to build a strong interdisciplinary research environment to explore complex biological problems. Our first undertaking is to decipher the spatiotemporal nature of autophagy and make predictions for improving a healthy lifespan.

Secondary objectives

  • Develop machine learning and sonification strategies to discover spatiotemporal autophagy patterns.
  • Develop, analyze and calibrate predictive mathematical models for the mechanisms of selective autophagy, as well as the rhythm, synchronization, and orchestration of autophagy.
  • Test predictions of mathematical models in cells and study effects on aging in model organisms.

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Opportunities to join AUTORHYTHM

- 15.06.2022: We are recruiting a PhD student in Molecular Cell Biology. The  candidate will test predictions made from in silico models by autophagy experiments in cells and study effects on aging in model organisms.

Application deadline: 31st July 2022

Published May 12, 2022 12:35 PM - Last modified June 15, 2022 9:02 PM


Project leader Anne Simonsen, Professor, Institute for Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, UiO and co-director, Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming (CanCell), UiO