Dr Cathy Slack

Lecturer in Biosciences

School of Life & Health Sciences

Aston University
Aston Triangle
B4 7ET

Room: MB438U
Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 4017
Email: c.slack@aston.ac.uk

Dr Cathy Slack

I joined the School of Life & Health Sciences in August 2016 as a Lecturer in Biosciences, after conducting postdoctoral research with Dame Prof. Linda Partridge (Institute of Healthy Ageing, University College London) and Prof. William Chia (MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, Kings College London). My background covers ageing biology, cell signalling and Drosophila genetics. My research focuses on the molecular and cellular processes that regulate lifespan and influence life-long health.

PhD Genetics,

Imperial College London, 2002

BSc(Hons) Biological Sciences

University of Southampton, 1998

  • 2016 – date: Lecturer in Biosciences, School of Life &Health Sciences, Aston University.
  • 2005 – 2016: Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute of Healthy Ageing, University College London.
  • 2002 – 2005: Postdoctoral Research Associate, MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, Kings College London.


  • BY2EN2 Endocrinology
  • BI4017 Clinical and Molecular Endocrinology
  • BI4014 Cellular Differentiation in Developmental Biology


Healthcare and lifestyle improvements have produced dramatic rises in life expectancy worldwide. While this is a significant achievement, it also means that increasingly more people live long enough to suffer from multiple age-related diseases. But what if we were to consider such age-related pathologies as symptoms of one common underlying indication, ageing itself? Could we develop therapeutic interventions to alleviate its effects, thereby prolonging health well into old age?

Ageing has long been considered an inevitable consequence of life. However, recent scientific advances have revealed that it has an underlying biological process, influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Research using laboratory organisms such as worms, flies and mice, has shown that remarkably similar interventions can extend lifespan and delay the adverse effects of ageing across different species. This striking evolutionary conservation indicates that these simple organisms will provide beneficial insights into human ageing. For example, there is now a wealth of research to show that preventing the flow of information through one particular cellular pathway, the insulin signalling pathway, can lead to a longer, healthier lifespan in different species and has even been linked to longevity in humans.

My research aims to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern how an animal ages using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system. Current key research topics include:

1. Understanding the regulatory networks that control the activity of key proteins within the insulin signalling pathway.
2.  Exploring the role of energy balance and metabolism in regulating lifespan.
3. Developing pharmacological interventions that extend lifespan and improve life-long health.

I am currently recruiting PhD students – please contact me for further details. 

Slack C, Alic N and Partridge L (2015). Could cancer drugs provide ammunition against aging? Cell Cycle 15: 153-155. Invited Review Article.

Slack C, Alic N, Foley A, Hoddinott M, Cabecinha M, Partidge L (2015). The Ras-Erk-ETS pathway is a drug target for longevity. Cell 62:72-83.  

Alic N, Tullet J, Niccoli T, Broughton S, Hoddinott M, Slack C, Gems D and Partridge L (2014). Cell-nonautonomous effects of dFOXO/DAF-16 in ageing. Cell Reports 6:608-16.

Slack C and Partridge L (2013). Genes, pathways and metabolism in ageing. Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models 10: e87-e93. Invited Review Article.

Slack C, Foley A, Partridge L (2012). Activation of AMPK by metformin is insufficient to extend lifespan in Drosophila. PLoS One 7:e47699.

Alic N, Hoddinott MP, Foley A, Slack C, Piper MD, Partridge L (2012). Detrimental effects of RNAi: a cautionary note on its use in Drosophila ageing studies. PLoS One 7:e45367.

Alic N, Andrews TD, Giannakou ME, Papatheodorou I, Slack C, Hoddinott MP, Cochemé HM, Schuster EF, Thornton JM, Partridge L (2011). Genome-wide dFOXO targets and topology of the transcriptomic response to stress and insulin signalling. Molecular Systems Biology 7: 502.

Slack C, Giannakou ME, Foley A, Goss M, Partridge L (2011). dFOXO-independent effects of reduced insulin-like signalling in Drosophila. Aging Cell 10: 735-748.

Wigby S, Slack C, Gronke S, Martinez P, Calboli FCF, Chapman T, Partridge L (2011) Insulin signalling regulates remating in female Drosophila. Proceedings Biological Sciences 278: 424-431.

Slack C, Werz C, Wieser D, Alic N, Foley A, Stocker H, Withers DJ, Thornton JM, Hafen E, Partridge L (2010). Regulation of lifespan, metabolism and stress responses by the Drosophila SH2B protein, Lnk. PLoS Genetics 6(3):e1000881.

Broughton S, Slack C, Alic N, Metaxakis A, Bass TM, Driege Y, Partridge L (2010). DILP-producing median neurosecretory cells in the Drosophila brain mediate the response of lifespan to nutrition. Aging Cell. 9: 336 – 346.

Bjedov I, Toivonen JM, Kerr F, Slack C, Jacobson J, Foley A, Partridge L (2010). Mechanisms of life span extension by rapamycin in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Metabolism 11:35-46.

Broughton S, Alic N, Slack C, Bass T, Ikeya T, Vinti G, Tommasi AM, Driege Y, Hafen E, Partridge L (2008). Reduction of DILP2 in Drosophila triages a metabolic phenotype from lifespan revealing redundancy and compensation among DILPs. PLoS One 3:e3721.

Recent Publications