Danielle Gutman completed her undergraduate studies of Biology and Mathematics and MSc in Human biology with honors at the University of Haifa. Her MSc
work and a project from her PhD lab were both presented as posters in international conferences. She is currently working on her PhD which includes recruiting and
collecting all samples from a unique human population cohort, processing samples in the lab and analyzing all the data. This cohort is the first of its kind in Israel
and she is the driving force behind it, coordinating between all aspects. Along-side her studies, she works as a genetics lab instructor at the University of Haifa,
coordinating, planning and teaching 60 students every year for five years.
Statement of the Problem: The aging process is generally associated with multi system deterioration that leads to the
development of various chronic diseases which greatly affect the lifespan as well as quality of life of the aging individual.
Advances in medical care have promoted lifespan beyond twice as much as reproductive age, yet a genomic explanation to the
survival of centenarians is not yet available, despite extensive genomic research performed. We hypothesize that the centenarian
epigenome might offer an explanation through epigenetic flexibility of methylation and chromatin structure. Such an approach
is novel and has not yet been implemented on human populations.
Aim: The aim of our study is to characterize the aging epigenome and chromatin configuration in order to demonstrate this
epigenetic flexibility which possibly allows crafting an appropriate genomic response, best fit to the environment.
Methodology & Theoretical Orientation: Three groups of participants are currently being recruited (up to 100 participants
each); centenarians (95+ yo), offspring of centenarians, controls (65-80 yo). Peripheral blood is drawn from all participants for
epigenetic analyses. Illumina Infinium Methylation EPIC array is used on DNA from CD34+ cells of all participants and Hi-C
analyses are performed on age and sex matched grouped white blood cell samples.
Findings: Based on previous work led by Prof. Gil Atzmon we expect to find differential methylation patterns among the
groups. Specifically, we observe ENCODE hot spots among centenarians and offspring, which are distinctly different in
methylation status from controls. In addition, using unrelated samples we aim to highlight structural differences between the
centenarian and non-centenarian related controls’ chromatin. Our approach avoids small scale variance and emphasizes the
bigger biological differences in chromatin formation associated with age.