His work is based on findings that suggest that cellular aging is characterized by differential gene expression. Furthermore, Cristofalo's studies also show that the inability of senescent cells to synthesize DNA in response to growth factors (and thus divide again) is partially based on impaired signaling pathways between the sensing sites at the cell membrane and the targets in the nucleus.
Francis is an associate investigator at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and often collaborates with Cristofalo. Her research examines the mechanism of action of a particular protein that declines during cellular aging. She focuses on the role that the loss of this protein has in the development of diseases that afflict the elderly, such as tumor formation, wound-healing and chronic skin conditions. Francis is also an assistant professor of pathology, anatomy and cell biology at Jefferson Medical College.
The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research is a subsidiary of Main Line Health. It is located on the campus of Lankenau Hospital, located in suburban Philadelphia, in a state-of-the-art building where investigators concentrate on molecular, cellular and developmental biology specific to cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and other diseases of aging.
"The theme of aging and the diseases of aging is a rare focus for a research center. Our ultimate goal is to determine the basis for the vulnerability to these diseases as we age, and to help people stay independent and productive during their lives, while reducing the impact of age-related diseases," said Cristofalo.