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Robert (R.J.) Wessells did his PhD at the Ohio State University, where he studied EGF Receptor activity in the developing Drosphila wing. He did a postdoc at University of Michigan, then moved to the Sanford Burnham Institute in La Jolla, California, where he helped to develop the use of adult Drosophila to study functional aging of the heart. Since starting his own lab at University of Michigan, he has developed the first invertebrate exercise training system, and used it to study genetic factors that modulate the effects of chronic exercise on healthspan.
His lab moved to Wayne State in Detroit in 2015, where he is currently an Associate Professor. His lab continues to work on identification of novel factors that can mimic the effects of exercise in sedentary animals, and to test the efficacy of these mimetics in treatment of progressive diseases, including Barth Syndrome and various ataxias.