Doctoral Students Visit the Naked Mole Rats

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Naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) are of great interest to scientists due to their unusually long life span and extreme cancer resistance. As part of weekly journal club, our students have elected to discuss multiple papers on naked mole rat research, beginning with the publication of the H. glaber genome in 2011. They were also fortunate to get a behind the scenes look at the naked mole rat colony at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, thanks to small mammal biologist David Kessler.   

 This fall our students look forward to discussing recent evidence that naked mole rat cancer resistance may be due to unusually high levels of hyaluronate in their skin and other tissues (Tian et al. (2013) Nature, 499:347). The Zoo and its “naked mole rat cam” are currently closed due to the federal government shutdown, but we are hoping they will be open and operational again very soon.