Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Experimental Gerontology Section


251 Bayview Boulevard
Suite 100
Baltimore, MD 21224



Research Topics

The Experimental Gerontology Section applies whole-body physiological assays coupled with tissue-specific molecular approaches to investigate the effects of nutritional and pharmacological interventions on basic mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases. Nutrition can have major effects on growth, development, and metabolism. There are complex interactions between diet composition, total calories, timing of food intake, daily fasting length, environment, and genetic makeup in controlling health and longevity. We have focused on the physiological effects of dietary interventions in mice and rhesus monkeys for more than 22 years. We have studied and published seminal work on the beneficial effects of caloric restriction, time-restricted feeding, intermittent fasting, resveratrol and other sirtuin activating compounds (STACs), metformin, and disulfiram. We studied these interventions in diet-induced obesity, intermittent fasting, and normal aging, focusing on various endpoints — from basic signaling, physiology, and behavior, to structural/functional changes induced during the aging process. EGS is also developing nutritional and genetic interventions targeting different components of this complex bioenergetic network. We use state-of-the-art facilities and molecular and cellular techniques to dissect and characterize the changes evoked by these interventions. In addition to identifying and characterizing interventions for healthy aging, the EGS is performing critical work on the characterization of normative aging in rodent models. The Study of Longitudinal Aging in Mice (SLAM), modeled as the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging is performing a comprehensive battery of physiologic and phenotypic testing and sample collection throughout the life of two different strains and both sexes of mice. SLAM seeks to understand better the similarities and differences between mouse models and human populations during aging. The SLAM projects will enhance our ability to interpret findings from and improve the translatability of pre-clinical research studies.

Our ultimate goal is to identify interventions that will improve both health span and lifespan, with the translational potential to benefit human aging.


After receiving his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Cordoba, Spain, Dr. de Cabo earned his Ph.D. in 2000 from the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University. Upon completing his graduate education, he received a postdoctoral position in the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2004, he was appointed as a tenure-track investigator in the Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology. He is now a senior investigator and Chief of the Translational Gerontology Branch at NIA. His research has focused on the effects of nutritional interventions on basic mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases and on improving our understanding of the molecular mechanisms for the effects of caloric restriction on aging and pharmacological interventions for healthy aging. Ultimately his research aims to identify interventions that will improve healthspan and lifespan with translational potential to benefit human aging. He is the author or co-author of 350 publications on aging including the leading journals in the world including New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Medicine, Science, Cell, Cell Metabolism, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. A search of his works indicates that his papers have been cited over 50,000 times and he has an h index of 112. Dr. de Cabo's honors and awards include the American Federation for Aging Research Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction (2023), the Denham Harman Award (2023) of the American Aging Association, Purdue University Diamond Award, Department of Foods and Nutrition (2016), AFAR's Vince Cristofalo Rising Star Award (2014), Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (2010), Nathan Shock New Investigator Award of the Gerontological Society of America (2006), Paul E. Glenn Award for Meritorious Research from The American Aging Association. Dr de Cabo is Deputy Editor in Chief, the Journal of Gerontology Biological Sciences and serves on the editorial boards of Aging Cell, BBA-Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, Aging Research Reviews, Longevity & Healthspan, Impact Aging, AGE and is one of the founding editors of Microbial Cell.

Selected Publications

  1. de Cabo R, Mattson MP. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. N Engl J Med. 2019;381(26):2541-2551.
  2. Diaz-Ruiz A, Rhinesmith T, Pomatto-Watson LCD, Price NL, Eshaghi F, Ehrlich MR, Moats JM, Carpenter M, Rudderow A, Brandhorst S, Mattison JA, Aon MA, Bernier M, Longo VD, de Cabo R. Diet composition influences the metabolic benefits of short cycles of very low caloric intake. Nat Commun. 2021;12(1):6463.
  3. Pomatto-Watson LCD, Bodogai M, Bosompra O, Kato J, Wong S, Carpenter M, Duregon E, Chowdhury D, Krishna P, Ng S, Ragonnaud E, Salgado R, Gonzalez Ericsson P, Diaz-Ruiz A, Bernier M, Price NL, Biragyn A, Longo VD, de Cabo R. Daily caloric restriction limits tumor growth more effectively than caloric cycling regardless of dietary composition. Nat Commun. 2021;12(1):6201.
  4. Mattison JA, Colman RJ, Beasley TM, Allison DB, Kemnitz JW, Roth GS, Ingram DK, Weindruch R, de Cabo R, Anderson RM. Caloric restriction improves health and survival of rhesus monkeys. Nat Commun. 2017;8:14063.
  5. Palliyaguru DL, Shiroma EJ, Nam JK, Duregon E, Vieira Ligo Teixeira C, Price NL, Bernier M, Camandola S, Vaughan KL, Colman RJ, Deighan A, Korstanje R, Peters LL, Dickinson SL, Ejima K, Simonsick EM, Launer LJ, Chia CW, Egan J, Allison DB, Churchill GA, Anderson RM, Ferrucci L, Mattison JA, de Cabo R. Fasting blood glucose as a predictor of mortality: Lost in translation. Cell Metab. 2021;33(11):2189-2200.e3.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Friday, August 18, 2023