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Social Gradients in Gene Regulation in Nonhuman Primates

September 28, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

On Friday, September 28th, Jenny Tung, PhD, will present Social Gradients in Gene Regulation in Nonhuman Primates as part of the Carolina Population Center 2018-2019 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series.
Tung is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology at Duke University. She is also a Faculty Research Scholar with Duke Population Research Institute (DuPRI). Dr. Tung is a participating faculty member with the Carolina Population Center’s Biosocial Training Program.

Tung is hosted by Carolina Population Center Fellow Allison Aiello. Aiello is a Professor of Epidemiology and the Program Leader of Social Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Dr. Aiello is PI for the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study (DHNS), the “Niños study,” and the Infectious Links between Psychosocial Stress and Aging Study. She is also Program Director and Co-PI for the Biosocial Training Program at CPC.


In social species, including our own, interactions with other members of the same species powerfully shape the environment that animals face each day. These interactions mediate the evolutionary costs and benefits of group living, and also contribute to social gradients in health. Here, I will present our recent research on the impact of social interactions at the molecular and organismal levels. Using a five-decade data set from wild baboons in Kenya, we demonstrate that social adversity in early life combines with ecological pressures to profoundly shape individual survival. Meanwhile, in captive rhesus macaques, we show that social status causally alters immune function, including the response to infection. Finally, by taking advantage of data sets from both species, we show that social status is consistently linked to variation in the regulation of innate immunity and inflammation-related genes. However, the strength and direction of these associations depend on sex, cellular environment, and the nature of the social hierarchy in which they arise.

Instructors: To arrange for class attendance, contact Kate Allison ( by the Monday before the seminar

Streaming may be available and must be arranged at least one week in advance.

This seminar is part of the Carolina Population Center’s Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series.


September 28, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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