Malene Hansen, Ph.D.

Malene Hansen's Research Focus

Metabolic Diseases, Aging-Related Diseases, Cancer, Neurodegenerative Diseases

Aging is a fundamental biological reality that is familiar to all of us. But how do organisms age at the molecular level? Several genes and processes have been identified that affect the rate of aging, many of which play important roles in highly conserved signaling pathways with relevance to age-related diseases like cancer and neurodegeneration. However, how these processes and conserved genes affect aging at the cellular and molecular level to influence organismal aging is not fully understood. The Hansen lab's research is directed towards understanding the molecular mechanisms that affect the process of aging.

Using a combination of genetic, cytological and biochemical approaches in the genetically tractable model organism C. elegans as well as in mammalian cell culture, we focus on unraveling how several evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways and processes modulate organismal aging. 

A particular focus of the lab is to understand the role of autophagy, a basic cellular process by which cytosolic components are being degraded and recycled (Figure 1), in organismal aging. Autophagy has been linked to many age-related diseases as well as aging, and new molecular insights on how autophagy functions in aging may facilitate future treatments of age-linked disorders, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. 

model summarizing the (macro) autophagy process

Malene Hansen's Bio

Malene Hansen received her early training at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. She received a Master’s degree in Biochemistry in 1998 and a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology in 2001. During this time, Dr. Hansen worked as a trainee in several labs in the US, including the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla. After her Ph.D, Dr. Hansen trained as a postdoctoral fellow in molecular genetics at the University of California in San Francisco. Dr. Hansen received postdoctoral funding from the Danish National Research Councils as well as an Ellison/American Federation of Aging Research Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Hansen was recruited to Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in September 2007.


2017 National Postdoctoral Association Mentor Award

Whole-body expression of tandem-tagged (mCherry::GFP) LGG-1/Atg8/LC3 in adult C. elegans.


Spatiotemporal regulation of autophagy during Caenorhabditis elegans aging.

Chang JT, Kumsta C, Hellman AB, Adams LM, Hansen M

Elife 2017 Jul 4 ;6

Hormetic heat stress and HSF-1 induce autophagy to improve survival and proteostasis in C. elegans.

Kumsta C, Chang JT, Schmalz J, Hansen M

Nat Commun 2017 Feb 15 ;8:14337

Phosphorylation of LC3 by the Hippo kinases STK3/STK4 is essential for autophagy.

Wilkinson DS, Jariwala JS, Anderson E, Mitra K, Meisenhelder J, Chang JT, Ideker T, Hunter T, Nizet V, Dillin A, Hansen M

Mol Cell 2015 Jan 8 ;57(1):55-68

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Post-translational modifications of ATG8 proteins - an emerging mechanism of autophagy control.

Nieto-Torres JL, Zaretski S, Liu T, Adams PD, Hansen M

J Cell Sci 2023 Aug 15 ;136(16)

Intestine-to-neuronal signaling alters risk-taking behaviors in food-deprived Caenorhabditis elegans.

Matty MA, Lau HE, Haley JA, Singh A, Chakraborty A, Kono K, Reddy KC, Hansen M, Chalasani SH

PLoS Genet 2022 May ;18(5):e1010178

SAMS-1 coordinates HLH-30/TFEB and PHA-4/FOXA activities through histone methylation to mediate dietary restriction-induced autophagy and longevity.

Lim CY, Lin HT, Kumsta C, Lu TC, Wang FY, Kang YH, Hansen M, Ching TT, Hsu AL

Autophagy 2023 Jan ;19(1):224-240

Targeted protein degradation: from small molecules to complex organelles-a Keystone Symposia report.

Cable J, Weber-Ban E, Clausen T, Walters KJ, Sharon M, Finley DJ, Gu Y, Hanna J, Feng Y, Martens S, Simonsen A, Hansen M, Zhang H, Goodwin JM, Reggio A, Chang C, Ge L, Schulman BA, Deshaies RJ, Dikic I, Harper JW, Wertz IE, Thomä NH, Słabicki M, Frydman J, Jakob U, David DC, Bennett EJ, Bertozzi CR, Sardana R, Eapen VV, Carra S

Ann N Y Acad Sci 2022 Apr ;1510(1):79-99

Autophagy in healthy aging and disease.

Aman Y, Schmauck-Medina T, Hansen M, Morimoto RI, Simon AK, Bjedov I, Palikaras K, Simonsen A, Johansen T, Tavernarakis N, Rubinsztein DC, Partridge L, Kroemer G, Labbadia J, Fang EF

Nat Aging 2021 Aug ;1(8):634-650

MON-2, a Golgi protein, mediates autophagy-dependent longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Jung Y, Artan M, Kim N, Yeom J, Hwang AB, Jeong DE, Altintas Ö, Seo K, Seo M, Lee D, Hwang W, Lee Y, Sohn J, Kim EJE, Ju S, Han SK, Nam HJ, Adams L, Ryu Y, Moon DJ, Kang C, Yoo JY, Park SK, Ha CM, Hansen M, Kim S, Lee C, Park SY, Lee SV

Sci Adv 2021 Dec 3 ;7(49):eabj8156

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