Maria Fernanda Forni, Ph.D.


Maria Fernanda Forni, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Yale University
266 Whitney Ave., Kline Biology Tower, Room 240
City, State, ZIP
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
(203) 432-­3482
[email protected]
Research field
Developmental Biology
Award year
Country of origin
Mentor name
Valerie Horsley, Ph.D.


In the Horsley lab, I will explore how cutting calories affects the structure of the skin and hair. Consuming a diet rich in nutrients but low in calories has been shown to extend life span and curb the harmful effects of aging in a variety of animals. Although the skin serves as our first line of defense from cold, dehydration, infection, and physical trauma, little is known about how dieting alters the integrity and function of this important tissue. As a postdoctoral fellow, I discovered that mice fed a calorically restricted diet had less fat in the dermal layer of the skin, yet they also had longer, thicker fur—which provided much-needed insulation. Now, using a suite of sophisticated methods in genetics, bioenergetics, microscopy, and stem-cell biology, I will try to unveil the mechanism through which calorie-restriction impacts stem cells and delays aging, focusing on its influence in the proliferation, specialization, and metabolism of skin stem cells. I will also evaluate the role of the discovered new pathways in a newborn mice model to determine whether they hamper the formation of fat and enhance the growth of fur. Findings from this work could lead to the development of therapeutics that maintain the integrity of aging skin, enhance wound healing, and delay cancer onset.

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