Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Noah Snyder-Mackler

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Psychology
University of Washington
Tel: 302-593-8430 Box: 351525

In the News:

As a comparative biopsychologist, Noah Snyder-Mackler aims to understand the causes and consequences of social adversity in humans using nonhuman primate model systems. His research combines perspectives from psychology, biology, and anthropology with laboratory methods from genetics and genomics to investigate the mechanistic underpinnings of how social adversity, low social status and/or lack of social companions, impacts health, survival, and reproduction across the lifespan. He has integrated genomics with behavioral observation to understand the evolution of sociality and the impact of social interactions on physiology in a range of species – most recently examining the immunological consequences of psychosocial stress in rhesus monkeys (Snyder-Mackler et al., Science 2016). In this study, he found that social status (i.e., dominance rank) altered genome-wide gene regulation at baseline and in response to an infection. Interestingly, this gene expression signature of social subordination also broadly recapitulated gene expression changes associated with aging (SnyderMackler et al., Aging Cell 2014), suggesting that chronic psychosocial stress may also affect the pace of an individual’s life history. Taken together, these findings demonstrate how social relationships may play a strong role in the link between social status and immune function. They are also relevant to a core question in his current and future research: can strong social relationships buffer against the negative effects of stress, leading to a longer, healthier life?

In his future research, he plans to continue to draw on the strengths of both captive and wild primate populations to understand the molecular consequences associated with variation in social status and social integration and how these associations may vary across the lifespan. His research program positions him to provide a uniquely rich, detailed perspective on the molecular mechanisms most closely associated with the associations between sociality, health, and survival. The results of this research, funded through his K99/R00 grant (K99-AG051764-01A1), promise to advance our understanding of the role that the quality and quantity of interpersonal relationships play in resilience during healthy aging. Thus, his research has great potential to address fundamental questions in basic science, while also having direct translational value to human health.

The goal of his research is to paint a detailed picture of the mechanistic underpinnings of the sociality health link – information that key to our understanding of the biological consequences of social behaviors and the social environment. His research program will complement those of the center’s faculty, particularly those who also study the connection between the social environment, aging and physiology. Given the interdisciplinary nature of my research, he also looks forward to the opportunity to reach across disciplines to interact and collaborate with faculty and students who are part of the CSDE.