Distinguished Research Professor 2015
Nancy Manley, professor of genetics and director of UGA’s Developmental Biology Alliance, is internationally recognized as an expert on the development, function and aging of the thymus and parathyroid organs. These areas are highly relevant to the function of the immune and endocrine systems. Manley has carved a unique niche at the intersection of development, immunology and aging. By using molecular genetic approaches to investigate the biology of the thymus across the entire lifespan, she has been able to uncover fundamental principles of organ development and aging, including mechanisms regulating stability of cell fate and degeneration of the immune system with aging. These principles have particular relevance to developing therapeutic interventions aimed at improving the immune system in the elderly by rejuvenating or replacing an aged thymus. She was recently part of a research team that was the first to grow a fully functional thymus in a living animal from transplanted cells. This discovery could one day aid in the development of laboratory-grown replacement organs, and it may form the basis of a thymus transplant for people with weakened immune systems.
Creative Research Medal 2011