Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Translational Gerontology Branch


251 Bayview Boulevard
Suite 100
Baltimore, MD 21224



Research Topics

The Aging, Metabolism, and Nutrition Unit (AMNU) applies whole body physiological and tissue-specific molecular approaches to investigate effects of nutritional interventions on basic mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases. Caloric restriction (CR), without malnutrition, is widely known to extend lifespan and retard a wide variety of aging processes in several short-lived species and is the primary paradigm employed by AMNU scientists. Research within this unit uses both rodent models of CR as well as an in vitro model for CR. CR affects metabolic regulation to induce an overall phenotypic change leading to a decrease in cellular proliferation and growth rates. CR induces measurable changes on circulating levels of several hormones and growth factors that regulate cell growth and proliferation. Serum obtained from CR animals alters growth, proliferation and stress responses of cells in culture. We have demonstrated that it is possible to investigate certain aspects of CR using this in vitro approach. This approach lends itself to a more rapid investigation of possible mechanisms and, perhaps more importantly to the research, development and rapid evaluation of interventions that would be able to induce or promote a phenotype similar to that seen with CR, essentially a CR mimetic.


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 completion of 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, where he now heads the Aging, Metabolism, and Nutrition Unit (AMNU). The AMNU applies both physiological and tissue-specific molecular approaches to investigate effects of nutritional interventions on basic mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases. Research within his unit strives to identify protective mechanisms invoked by caloric restriction and to evaluate the consequences of dietary interventions on lifespan, pathology, and behavioral function. The AMNU balances the exploration of in vivo rodent, as well as in vitro, paradigms of caloric restriction. Dr. de Cabo is an active member of the Board of the American Aging Association.

Selected Publications

  1. Aon MA, Bernier M, Mitchell SJ, Di Germanio C, Mattison JA, Ehrlich MR, Colman RJ, Anderson RM, de Cabo R. Untangling Determinants of Enhanced Health and Lifespan through a Multi-omics Approach in Mice. Cell Metab. 2020;32(1):100-116.e4.

  2. Bernier M, Mitchell SJ, Wahl D, Diaz A, Singh A, Seo W, Wang M, Ali A, Kaiser T, Price NL, Aon MA, Kim EY, Petr MA, Cai H, Warren A, Di Germanio C, Di Francesco A, Fishbein K, Guiterrez V, Harney D, Koay YC, Mach J, Enamorado IN, Pulpitel T, Wang Y, Zhang J, Zhang L, Spencer RG, Becker KG, Egan JM, Lakatta EG, O'Sullivan J, Larance M, LeCouteur DG, Cogger VC, Gao B, Fernandez-Hernando C, Cuervo AM, de Cabo R. Disulfiram Treatment Normalizes Body Weight in Obese Mice. Cell Metab. 2020;32(2):203-214.e4.

  3. Mitchell SJ, Bernier M, Mattison JA, Aon MA, Kaiser TA, Anson RM, Ikeno Y, Anderson RM, Ingram DK, de Cabo R. Daily Fasting Improves Health and Survival in Male Mice Independent of Diet Composition and Calories. Cell Metab. 2019;29(1):221-228.e3.

  4. Di Francesco A, Di Germanio C, Bernier M, de Cabo R. A time to fast. Science. 2018;362(6416):770-775.

  5. 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.

This page was last updated on September 2nd, 2020