Mahtab Jafari

Picture of Mahtab Jafari
Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Director, The UCI Center for Healthspan Sciences
College of Health Sciences
Pharm.D., University of California, San Francisco, 1994
Residency, University of California, San Francisco, 1995, Clinical Pharmacy
Phone: (949) 824-0145
Fax: (949) 824-2949
University of California, Irvine
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
3232 McGaugh
Mail Code: 3958
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Healthspan Pharmacology: The Impact of Botanical Extracts and Dietary Supplements on Longevity and Health, Anti-Aging Pharmacology, and Preventive Medicine
Academic Distinctions
UCSF Campaign Dedicated Alumni Award
UCI Distinguished Professor Award for Teaching
The Greater Los Angeles Federal Executive Board Public Service Team Accomplishment Award for FDA/UCI Internship Program
The FDA Collaboration Award for the FDA/UCI Internship Program
UCI Distinguished Professor Award
UCI Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences “Most Inspiring Professor” Award
UCI Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences “Overall Outstanding Professor Award”
UCI Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine “Discovery Award”
UCI Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research
UCI Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Teaching
“20 Women to Watch in Orange County”, OC Metro Business Magazine
Research Abstract
I have 25 years of experience in basic, translational, data mining, and clinical sciences research in academic and private settings. Until 2005, my research emphasized cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric diseases as a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and University of California, Irvine (UCI) and a senior scientist at Abbott Laboratories. At Abbott Laboratories, I focused on metabolic complications of CNS drugs mainly through conducting large data mining studies on clinical trial databases. One of these data mining projects on metabolic complications of Depakote ER resulted in the discovery of cholesterol-lowering properties of divalproex sodium. When I was recruited back to UCI in 2005, I decided to broaden the focus of my research and shifted the emphasis of my work to aging and improving healthspan through a science that I introduced as Healthspan Pharmacology. After 16 years of developing and validating phenotypic studies in flies, I am now expanding my research portfolio and will include two additional projects: 1) To develop Drosophila as platform for drug discovery and repurposing using OMIC-AI technology and 2) To fractionate the botanical extracts that we have worked with and test the impact of the fractions on the healthspan of flies and in our OMIC-AI platform.

Development of a Phenotypic Screening Algorithm: Using fruit fly as my main model system, since 2006, my research team has been developing and validating a phenotypic algorithm to screen for pharmaceuticals and botanicals that extend lifespan and improve healthspan.

Healthspan Pharmacology: During the past 16 years, after screening over 100 compounds, we identified five botanical extracts (Rhodiola rosea, Rosa damascena, curcumin, cinnamon, and Angelica keiske) that had increased the lifespan and improved the healthspan of Drosophila. We have also evaluated their mechanism of action on potential pathways that may impact aging and health (sirtuin and insulin signaling, mitochondrial bioenergetics, autophagy, and microbiome). We also evaluated the impact of these botanicals on human disease models in Drosophila such as Huntington’s Disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Botanicals Drug Discovery: I have collaborated with colleagues in Korea and Austria with complementary expertise to identify bioactive molecules in two of the botanicals that I identified in my lab through our screening algorithm. We are currently testing the impact of Rhodiola rosea microfractions on various models and on the healthspan of c. elegans and Drosophila These combined findings in flies, worms, mice, and cultured normal and cancerous human cells present a strong rationale for a study to evaluate the putative bioactive molecules of Rhodiola rosea in a drug discovery platform.

OMIC and Machine Learning Drug Discovery: The failure rate of the traditional drug discovery route is very high; hence it is a very expensive and time-consuming process. Recent work with the model organism Drosophila has provided a new way to identify mechanisms of drug action, and thus potential side effects or alternative uses. Over the last decade, some of the most powerful functional genomic analyses have been produced by the collaborators in this application. In parallel, my lab has also developed validated functional assays for the impact of natural products and pharmaceuticals on the focal and non-focal phenotypes of Drosophila. In an effort to make these functional assays more efficient, we are now interested in developing and optimizing automated phenotypic assays: phenomics. Lawrence Mueller has used a powerful machine-learning tool called “FLAM” (for Fused Lasso Additive Models) that has shown success in parsing genome-wide differentiation to identify the causal links between omic differentiation and functional characters.

Educational Research: During my academic career, I have always been interested in educational research with a focus on developing new courses, workshops and program to improve my students emotional and physical wellbeing. I currently teach Life101 (an online course that I developed in 2013 to address the epidemic of stress on college campuses) to students on all 10 UC campuses. This course also serves as a platform for my educational research program and collaborations with colleagues who are interested in improving students’ wellness.

Complete list of publications in MyBibliography:
Selected Publications from CV (Since 2006):

1) Jafari, M. and Rose, M.R. 2006. Rules for the Use of Model Organisms in Anti-Aging Pharmacology. Aging Cell. 5:17-22.

2) Jafari M, Long AD, Mueller LD and Rose MR.. 2006. Pharmacology of aging in Drosophila. Current Drug Targets. (7), 1479-1483.

3) Mathieu, C. and Jafari, M. 2006 Immunomodulation by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3: Therapeutic implications in autoimmunity and transplantation. Clinical Nephrology. 66(4): 275-283.

4) Mahtab Jafari, Behnood Khodayari, Jeffrey Felgner, Irvin I. Bussel, Michael R. Rose, and Laurence D. Mueller. 2007 Pioglitazone: An Anti-Diabetic Compound with Anti-Aging Properties. Biogerontology 8:639-651.

5) Mahtab Jafari, Jeffrey Felgner, Behnood Khodayari, Anthony Hutchili, Irvin I. Bussel, Concordia Vince-Cruz, Michael R. Rose, and Laurence D. Mueller. 2007 Rhodiola: A Promising Anti-Aging Chinese Herb. Rejuvenation Research. 10 (4): 1-16.

6) Sepulveda S., P. Shojaeian, C. L. Rauser, M. Jafari, L. D. Mueller, M. R. Rose. 2008. Interactions between Injury, Stress, and Aging in Drosophila melanogaster. Experimental Gerontology. 43(3):136-45.

7) Mahtab Jafari, Asghar Zarban, Steven Chang, and Thomas Wang. 2008 Rosa damascena decreases mortality in adult Drosophila. Journal of Medicinal Foods. 11 (1): 9-13.

8) Bussel, I.I, Joseph, M., Lewis, V., Jafari, M. 2008 Caffeine supplementation increases mortality in female Drosophila melanogaster without reproductive or metabolic impairment. Drosophila Information Services. Volume 91. December 2008.

9) Avanesian A, Khodayari B, Felgner J.S, Jafari M. 2009 Lamotrigine Extends Lifespan but Compromises Health Span in Drosophila melanogaster. Biogerontology. 11(1): 45-52.

10) Samuel E Schriner, Agnesa Avanesian, Yanxia Liu, Hendrik Luesch, and Mahtab Jafari. 2009 Protection of human cultured cells against oxidative stress by Rhodiola rosea without activation of antioxidant defenses. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 47: 577-584.

11) Samuel E. Schriner, Ani Abrahamyan, Agnesa Avanesian, Irvin Bussel, Maral Gazarian, Marissa A. Holmbeck, and Mahtab Jafari. 2009 Decreased mitochondrial superoxide levels and enhanced protection against paraquat in Drosophila melanogaster supplemented with Rhodiola rosea. Free Radical Research. 43(9): 836-843

12) Agnesa Avanesian, Sahar Semnani and Mahtab Jafari. 2009 Can Drosophila melanogaster Represent a Model System for the Detection of Reproductive Adverse Drug Reactions? Drug Discovery Today. 14 (15/16): 761-766.

13) Mahtab Jafari. 2010 Drosophila melanogaster as a Model System for Evaluating Anti-aging Compounds. FLY 4 (3): 1-5

14) Kyu-Sun Lee, Byung-Sup Lee, Sahar Semnani, Agnesa Avanesian, Se-Yoon Um, Hyun-Jin Jeon, Kwon Yu, Kyung-Jin Min*, and Mahtab Jafari* (*equal contribution made by these authors). 2010 Curcumin Extends Lifespan, Improves Heal Span, and Modulate Aging Related Genes in Drosophila Melanogaster. Rejuvenation Research 13 (5): 1-10.

15) Zhongbo Liu, Xuesen Li, Anne R. Simoneau, Mahtab Jafari, and Xiaolin Zi. 2011. Rhodiola rosea extracts and salidroside decrease the growth of bladder cancer cell lines via inhibition of the mTOR pathway and induction of autophagy. Molecular Carcinogenesis. April 22, 2011 (ePub)

16) Schriner SE, Katoozi NS, Pham KQ, Garzarian M, Zarban A, Jafari M. 2012. Extension of Drosophila lifespan by Rosa damascena associated with an increased sensitivity to heat. Biogerontology. 13(2):105-117.

17) Kislukhin, Galina; Murphy, Maura L.; Jafari, Mahtab; Long, Anthony D. 2012. Chemotherapy-induced toxicity is highly heritable in Drosophila melanogaster. Pharmacogenetics and Genomics. 22 (4): 285–289

18) Seyed Fazel Nabavi, Solomon Habtemariam, Mahtab Jafari, Antoni Sureda, and Seyed Mohammad Nabavi. 2012. Protective Role of Gallic Acid on Sodium Fluoride-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rat Brain. Bulleting of Enviromental Contamination and Toxicology. 89(1): 73-77.

19) Seyed Fazel Nabavi, Seyed Mohammad Nabavi, Solomon Habtemariam , Antoni Sureda, Mahtab Jafari, Fatemeh Abolhasani, and Akbar Hajizadeh Moghaddam. 2013. Hepatoprotective effect of gallic acid isolated from Peltiphyllum peltatum against sodium fluoride-induced oxidative stress. Industrial Crops and Products. 44:50-55.

20) Samuel E. Schriner, Kevin Lee, Stephanie Truong, Kathyrn T. Salvadora, Steven Maler, Alexander Nam, Thomas Lee, and Mahtab Jafari. 2013. Extension of Drosophila lifespan by Rhodiola rosea through a mechanism independent from dietary restriction. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63886

21) Lopez T, Schriner SE, Okoro M, Lu D, Chiang BT, Huey J, Jafari M. 2014. Green Tea Polyphenols Extend the Lifespan of Male Drosophila melanogaster While Impairing Reproductive Fitness J Med Food. 17(12):1314-1321.

22) Samuel E. Schriner, Steven Kuramada, Terry E. Lopez, Stephanie Truong, Andrew Pham, and Mahtab Jafari. 2014. Extension of Drosophila lifespan by cinnamon through a sex-specific dependence on the insulin receptor substrate chico. Experimental Gerontology. 60(C): 220-230.

23) Kil, Yun-Seo, Choi, Seul-Ki, Lee, Yun-Sil, Jafari, Mahtab, Seo, Eun-Kyoung. 2015. Chalcones from Angelica keiskei: Evaluation of Their Heat Shock Protein Inducing Activities. Journal of Natural Products. 78; 2481-2487.

24) Mahtab Jafari. Healthspan Pharmacology. 2015. Rejuvenation Research. 18(6): 573-80.

25) Terry E. Lopez, Hoang M. Pham, Julia Barbour, Phillip Tran, Sean P. Hogan, Benjamin Van Nguyen, Richelle L. Homo, Volkan Coskun, Samuel E. Schriner, and Mahtab Jafari. The impact of green tea polyphenols on development and reproduction of Drosophila melanogaster. 2016. Journal of Functional Foods. 20: 556–566

26) Samuel E. Schriner, Volkan Coskun, Sean P. Hogan, Terry E. Lopez, and Mahtab Jafari. Extension of Drosophila lifespan by Rhodiola rosea Depends on Dietary Carbohydrate and Caloric Content in a Simplified Diet. 2016. Journal of Medicinal Food. 19 (3): 318–323

27) Terry E Lopez; Hoang M Pham; Yerazik Tahmasian; Benjamin V Nguyen; Shannon Ramsden; Volkan Coskun; Samuel E Schriner, and Mahtab Jafari. Green Tea Polyphenols Require the Mitochondrial Iron Transporter, mitoferrin, for Lifespan Extension in Drosophila melanogaster. 2016. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 93(4): 210-221.

28) Yun-Seo Kil, Sally T. Pham, Eun Kyoung Seo, and Mahtab Jafari. 2017 Angelica keiskei, an emerging medicinal herb with various bioactive constituents and biological activities. Archives of Pharmaceutical Research. (40): 655-675.

29) Mahtab Jafari. 2017. A Unique Degree Program for Pre-Pharmacy Education: An Undergraduate Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2017. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning. In press. Published online October 27, 2017.

30) Mahtab Jafari. 2017. Life101 Enhances Healthy Lifestyle Choices in Undergraduate Students. 2017. Journal of University Teaching and Learning. 4(3) 4: 1-17.

31) Khachik E. Labachyan, Dara Kiani, Evgueni A. Sevrioukov, Samuel E. Schriner, and Mahtab Jafari. The impact of Rhodiola rosea on the gut microbial community of Drosophila melanogaster. 2018 Gut Pathogens. 10(12): 1-10.

32) Jasmin G. J. Arabit, Rami Elhaj, Samuel E. Schriner, Yevgeni Sevrioukov, and Mahtab Jafari. Rhodiola rosea Improves Lifespan, Locomotion, and Neurodegeneration in a Drosophila melanogaster Model of Huntington’s Disease. 2018 BioMed Research International. Special issue “Drosophila Models of Human Disease". Volume 2018, Article ID 6726874

33) Hanh M. Pham, Anna Xu, Samuel E. Schriner, Evgueni A. Sevrioukov, and Mahtab Jafari. Cinnamaldehyde Improves Lifespan and Healthspan in Drosophila melanogaster models for Alzheimer’s Disease. 2018 BioMed Research International. Special issue “Drosophila Models of Human Disease". Volume 2018, Article ID 3570830

34) Barbara Sorkin, Adam Kuszak, Gregory Bloss, Naomi Fukagawa, Mahtab Jafari, Michael Walters, Bruce Barrett, Frederic Bushman, Steven Casper, Floyd Chilton, Christopher Coffey, Mario Ferruzzi, Craig Hopp, Mairead Kiely, Daniel Lakens, John MacMillan, David Meltzer, Jeffrey Paul, Kathleen Pritchett-Corning, Sara Quinney, Sharon Ross, Harold Seifried, Kenneth Setchell, Nisha Sipes, Jacqueline Stephens, Lans Taylor, Hervé Tiriac, Dan Xi, Freddie Ann Hoffman, and Guido Pauli. (Office of Dietary Supplement NIH Working Group). Improving Natural Product Research Translation: from Source to Clinical Trial. 2020 The FASEB Journal. 34: 41-65.

35) Julia Langeder, Ulrike Grienke, Kristin Döring, Mahtab Jafari, Christina Ehrhardt, Michaela Schmidtke, Judith M. Rollinger. High-Performance Counter-Current Chromatography to access Rhodiola rosea influenza virus inhibiting constituents. Planta Medica. 2020 Planta Med. Published Online: 10.1055/a-1228-8473.

36) Grant A. Rutledge, Howard J. Phang, Michael N. Le, Linsey Bui, Michael R. Rose, Laurence D. Mueller, and Mahtab Jafari. Diet and Botanical Supplementation: Combination Therapy for Healthspan Improvement? 2020. Rejuvenation Research. Published Online:
National Institute of Healthcare Research/Templeton Foundation | 1998-2000 | Educational Grants in Spirituality and Medicine. | Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA | Role: Principal Investigator
National Institute of Healthcare Research/Templeton Foundation | 2000-2002 | Educational Grants in Spirituality and Medicine | University of California, Irvine | Role: Co-Principal Investigator
R01 GM085251-01 (NIH) | 3/01/2009 - 2/28/2013 | Drosophila as a Model for Chemotherapy Pharmacogenomics | Role: Co-investigator, University of California, Irvine (PI: Anthony Long)
AG-NS-0495-08 Ellison Medical Foundation | 8/1/2008 - 7/31/2012 | The Role of Mitochondrial Superoxide in Aging | Role: Supervisor, University of California, Irvine (PI: Samuel E. Shriner)
R21AT004987-01A2 (NIH) | 4/01/2010 - 3/31/2013 | Botanicals, Mitochondrial Bioenergetics, and Aging Pathways | Role: Principal Investigator, University of California, Irvine
R21CA152804-01A1 (NIH) | 3/08/2011-2/28/2013 | Rhodiola rosea Extracts, Salidroside and Bladder Cancer Chemoprevention | Role: Co-investigator, University of California, Irvine (PI: Xiaolin Zi)
UCI Bridge Funds | 8/2012-6/2013 | Role: Principle Investigator, University of California, Irvine
UCI/Ewha Women University in Seoul, Korea | Collaborative Grant | Korean Botanicals, Lifespan and Health Span | 4/2015-4/2016 & 4/2016-4/2017 | Role: Principle Investigator at UCI (Eun-Kyoung Seo, PhD was PI in Seoul, Korea)
School of Medicine and Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences | 7/2017-7/2018 | Collaborative Grant | The Impact of Metformin, Rapamycin, and Rhodiola rosea on Surrogate Biomarkers of Lifespan and Healthspan in Leptin Receptor Mutant Mice | Role: Co-Principle Investigator from Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, Irvine
HL-31210 (NIH), Grant in Aid from the American Heart Association, Hyseq, Inc. | 1998-2002 | Pharmacogenomics of Cardiovascular Therapies | The major goal of this project was to evaluate the impact of pharmacogenomics variables on response to lipid lowering medications. | Role: Co-Investigator, University of California, Irvine (PI: John Kane, MD, PhD, UCSF)
Alaska Rhodiola rosea Products Cooperative Farmers | 2016-2018 | Improving the Quality of Rhodiola rosea in Alaskan Farms. | The purpose of this project was to evaluate the quality of Rhodiola rosea harvest from various farmers in Alaska through characterization of the root extracts using analytical HPLC and in vivo assays. | Role: Principal Investigator, University of California, Irvine
UCI Microbiome Initiative Technical Support Grant | 2018 | The Impact of Rhodiola rosea on the microbiome of leptin deficient mice. | Role: Principal Investigator, University of California, Irvine
University of California, Office of the President | Innovative Learning Teaching Initiative | 2019 | Life101 | The goal of this grant is to develop an enhanced version of the online Life101 so that it can be offered to all UC students and also on Coursera to all college students. | Role: Principal Investigator
Other Experience
Senior Research Scientist
Abbott Laboratories 2001—2004
Regional Scientific Manager
Abbott Laboratories 2004—2005
Graduate Programs
Pharmacological Sciences
Research Centers
The UCI Center for Healthspan Sciences
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