This volume focuses on the huge advances in the last 25 years on the use of this animal model for biomedical research (cancer, heart disease and neurodegeneration), fundamental neuroscience and basic subterranean biology. In 2013, Science magazine named the naked mole-rat as the Vertebrate of the Year. This was partly due to research carried out documenting its extreme longevity, negligible senescence, and prolonged maintenance of cancer-free, good health well into old age as well as seminal work on mechanisms involved in these processes, pain and hypoxia resistance. In addition to this research focus on longevity and chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, the naked mole-rat has also made a substantial contribution to the fields of ecophysiology, neuroscience and behaviour. With international contributions, this book provides a valuable text for zoological students, behavioural scientists and biomedical researchers.
Dr Rochelle (Shelley) Buffenstein is a Senior Principal Investigator at Calico Life Sciences LLC, a company dedicated to harnessing advanced technologies to understand the basic biology of ageing. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Shelley has published more than 180 publications and has been recognized with several awards, including a Breakthroughs in Gerontology Award from the Glenn Foundation, an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar award, the ADPS Longevity Award and the American Aging Association Denham Harman Lifetime Achievement award. Shelley started off her career as an ecophysiologist studying a diverse suite of species that inhabit extremely challenging environments, undertaking her PhD under the mentorship of Jenny Jarvis on the ecophysiology of desert rodents. While a student at the University of Cape Town, she accompanied Jenny Jarvis on various field trips to Kenya, Namibia and within South Africa to undertake fieldwork on mole-rats and other rodents. A key focus of her research over the last 30 years has been the physiology, endocrinology and ageing biology of the exceptionally long-lived (~35 years) naked mole-rat and the molecular mechanisms these mouse-sized rodents employ to maintain good health, reproductive fitness and cognition well into their third decade. Working with a species that hasn’t read the textbook of how to behave like a mammal has been an incredibly rewarding experience, forging terrific friendships through collaboration and intriguing scientific challenges.
Thomas Park is a professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His graduate training was in behavioural assessments of sound perception in birds and gerbils. His post-doctoral training was in electrophysiology of auditory brain regions in awake bats. After taking a position at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he obtained a colony of naked mole-rats from Professor Jenny Jarvis with the idea of studying their hearing. But the naked mole-rats spoke to him and expanded his research focus and his life. Now, in addition to hearing, he focuses on amazing adaptations that naked mole-rats have for tolerating oxygen deprivation and high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Working with naked mole-rats has also opened the door for wonderful collaborations and lifelong friendships.
Melissa Holmes is an associate professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her doctoral training was in sexual differentiation and adult plasticity in green anoles. Working with Professor Nancy Forger, her post-doctoral training was in sex and status effects on neural plasticity in naked mole-rats. When starting her position at the University of Toronto, she inherited a colony of naked mole-rats from Professor Bruce Goldman, to continue their work on behavioural neuroendocrinology and adult neural plasticity. She continues to use multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to primarily focus on the remarkable social and reproductive adaptations in naked mole-rats as well as contribute to a variety of diverse research questions through many successful and rewarding collaborative projects.