Andrea Bodnar, Ph.D.

GMGI Donald G. Comb Science Director

Andrea is a scientist whose research interests lie at the intersection of marine biology and human health. With experience in both academic and industry settings, she brings a unique perspective and broad experience important to establishing a new world-class research institute. Prior to joining GMGI as the Science Director, Andrea was a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Discovery Lab at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). At BIOS, her research program focused on using sea urchins as models to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying extreme longevity, negligible aging, and naturally occurring resistance to cancer. Prior to that, Andrea held Senior Scientist positions in the Oncology Department of Hoffman-La Roche, the Department of Cell Biology and Pharmacology at Geron Corporation, and the Bioprocessing Technology Institute at the National University of Singapore. She received a BSc and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from McMaster University in Canada and conducted post-doctoral studies in the Department of Neurological Science at the University of London.


1985 – BSc Biochemistry, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
1991 – PhD Biochemistry, McMaster University, Advisor: Richard A. Rachubinski

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of marine biology and human health with a particular focus on developing marine animal models for biomedical research. In the early part of my career, I worked in both academic and industry settings focused on questions related to human aging and cancer biology. In 2003, I joined the faculty at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and refocused my research to study long-lived marine invertebrates in an effort to understand how these animals live such long and healthy lives. Since joining GMGI in 2017, I have continued to study sea urchins as models to identify the key genes and cellular pathways involved in long-term maintenance of tissues and resistance to cancer. Some species of sea urchins can live to extraordinary old ages – more than 100 years – without any evidence of age-related decline and no reported cases of cancer. Because sea urchins share a close genetic relationship with humans, they represent ideal models to investigate the molecular and cellular pathways contributing to longevity and disease resistance with direct relevance to human health. Insight gained from studying negligible aging in sea urchins may reveal novel genes and pathways that promote healthy aging and identify new preventative or therapeutic strategies for human age-related degenerative diseases.

Research Profile Links

Research Projects

Polinski, J.M, Castellano, K.R., Buckley, K.M, and Bodnar, A.G. (2024) Genomic signatures of exceptional longevity and negligible aging in the long-lived red sea urchin. Cell Reports 43(4) 114021. DOI:

Major, S.R., Harke, M.J., Cruz-Flores, R., Dhar, A.K., Bodnar, A.G. and SA Wanamaker. (2023) Rapid detection of DNA and RNA shrimp viruses using CRISPR-based diagnostics. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 0:e02151-02122.

Polinski, J.M., Zimin, A.V., Clark, K.F., Kohn, A.B., Sadowski, N., Timp, W., Ptitsyn, A., Khanna, P., Romanova, D.Y., Williams, P., Greenwood, S.J., Moroz, L.L., Walt, D.R. and Bodnar, A.G. (2021) The American lobster genome reveals insights on longevity, neural, and immune adaptations. Science Advances Vol. 7, no. 26, eabe8290 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe8290

Polinski, J.M., N. Kron, D.R. Smith, and A.G. Bodnar. (2020) Unique age-related transcriptional signature in the nervous system of the long-lived red sea urchin Mesocentrotus franciscanus. Scientific Reports. 10: 9182. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-66052-3

Polinski, J.M., J.P. Bucci, M. Gasser, and A.G. Bodnar. (2019)  Metabarcoding assessment of prokaryotic and eukaryotic taxa in sediments from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Scientific Reports. 9:14820 doi:10.1038/s41598-019-51341-3.

Sullivan, T.J., Dhar, A. K., Cruz-Flores, R. and Bodnar, A. G. (2019)  Rapid, CRISPR-based, field-deployable detection of White Spot Syndrome Virus in shrimp. Scientific reports 9(1), 19702.

Emerson, C.E., Reinardy, H.C., Bates, N.R. and Bodnar, A.G. (2017) Ocean acidification impacts spine integrity but not regenerative capacity of spines and tube feet in adult sea urchins. Royal Society Open Science 4: 170140.

Bodnar, A.G. and Coffman, J.A. (2016) Maintenance of somatic regenerative capacity with age in short- and long-lived species of sea urchins. Aging Cell 15, 778–787 doi: 10.1111/acel.12487.

Reinardy, H.C., Chapman, J. and Bodnar, A.G. (2016) Induction of innate immune gene expression following methyl methanesulfonate-induced DNA damage in sea urchins. Biology Letters 12: 20151057.

Bodnar, A.G. (2016) Lessons from the sea: Marine animals provide models for biomedical research. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 58:2, 16-25.

Reinardy, H.C. and Bodnar, A.G. (2015)  Profiling DNA damage and repair capacity in sea urchin larvae and coelomocytes. Mutagenesis 30, 829-839. doi:10.1093/mutage/gev052.

Reinardy, H.C., Emerson, C.E, Manley, J.M. and Bodnar, A.G. (2015) Tissue regeneration and biomineralization in sea urchins: role of Notch signaling and presence of stem cell markers. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0133860. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133860.

Bodnar, A.G. (2015) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of negligible senescence: insight from the sea urchin. Invertebrate Reproduction & Development, 59:sup1, 23-27.

El-Bibany, A.H., Bodnar, A.G. and Reinardy, H.C. (2014) Comparative DNA damage and repair in echinoderm coelomocytes exposed to genotoxicants. PLoS ONE 9(9): e107815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107815

Du, C., Anderson, A., Lortie, M., Parsons, R. and Bodnar, A. (2013) Oxidative damage and cellular defense mechanisms in sea urchin models of aging. Free Radical Biology and Medicine 63, 254-263.

Bodnar, A. (2013)  Proteomic profiles reveal age-related changes in coelomic fluid of sea urchin species with different life spans. Experimental Gerontology 48, 525-530.

Talbert, E., Bodnar, A., Morré, D.M. and Morré, D.J. (2013)  Age-related NADH oxidase (arNOX) activity is significantly reduced in coelomic fluid of long-lived sea urchins. International Aquatic Research 5:2.

Loram, J. and Bodnar, A. (2012) Age-related changes in gene expression in tissues of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 133, 338-347.

Loram, J., Raudonis, R., Chapman, J., Lortie, M. and Bodnar, A. (2012)  Sea urchin coelomocytes are resistant to a variety of DNA damaging agents. Aquatic Toxicology 124-125, 133-138.

McCaughey, C. and Bodnar, A. (2012) Investigating the sea urchin immune system: Implications for disease resistance and aging. Journal of Young Investigators 23(6), 25-33.

Zielke S. and Bodnar, A. (2010)  Telomeres and telomerase activity in scleractinian corals and Symbiodinium spp. Biological Bulletin 218, 113-121.

Bodnar, A.G. (2009)  Marine invertebrates as models for aging research. Experimental Gerontology 44, 477-484.

Venn, A.A., Quinn, J.A.S., Jones, R.J. and Bodnar, A.G. (2009)  P-glycoprotein (multi-xenobiotic resistance) and heat shock protein gene expression in the reef coral Montastraea franksi in response to environmental toxicants. Aquatic Toxicology 93, 188-195.

Ebert, T.A., Russell, M.P., Gamba, G. and Bodnar, A. (2008)  Growth, survival, and longevity estimates for the rock-boring sea urchin Echinometra lucunter lucunter (Echinodermata, Echinoidea) in Bermuda. Bulletin of Marine Science 82, 381-403.

Owen, R., Sarkis, S. and Bodnar, A. (2007) Developmental pattern of telomerase expression in the sand scallop, Euvola ziczac. Invertebrate Biology 126, 40-45.

Francis, N., Gregg, T., Owen, R., Ebert, T. and Bodnar, A. (2006)  Lack of age-associated telomere shortening in long- and short-lived species of sea urchins. FEBS Letters 580, 4713-4717.

Lim, J.W.E. and Bodnar A. (2002)  Proteome analysis of conditioned medium from mouse embryonic fibroblast feeder layers which support the growth of human embryonic stem cells. Proteomics 2, 1187-1203.

Yang J., Chang E., Cherry A.M., Bangs C.D., Oei Y., Bodnar A., Bronstein A., Chiu C-P. and Herron G.S. (1999)  Human Endothelial Cell Life Extension by Telomerase Expression. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 274, 26141-26148.

Jiang X-R., Jimenez G., Chang E., Frolkis M., Kusler B., Sage M., Beeche M., Bodnar A.G., Wahl G.M., Tlsty T.D. and Chiu C-P. (1999) Telomerase expression in human somatic cells does not induce changes associated with a transformed phenotype. Nature Genetics 21, 111-114.

Bodnar A.G., Ouellette M., Frolkis M., Holt S.E., Chiu, C.-P., Morin G.B., Harley C.B., Shay J.W., Lichtsteiner S. and Wright W.E. (1998)  Extension of life-span by introduction of telomerase into normal human cells. Science 279, 349-352.

Weinrich S.L., Pruzan R., Ma L., Ouellette M., Tesmer V.M., Holt S.E., Bodnar A.G. Lichtsteiner S., Kim N.W., Trager J.B., Taylor R.D., Carlos R., Andrews W.H., Wright W.E., Shay J.W., Harley C.B. and Morin G.B. (1997)  Reconstitution of human telomerase with the template RNA component hTR and the catalytic protein subunit hTRT. Nature Genetics 17, 498-502.

Stampfer M.R., Bodnar A., Garbe J., Wong M., Pan A., Villeponteau B. and Yaswen P. (1997)  Gradual phenotypic conversion associated with immortalization of human mammary epithelial cells. Molecular Biology of the Cell 8, 2391-2405.

Taanman J.-W., Bodnar A.G., Cooper J.M., Morris A.A.M., Clayton P.T., Leonard J.V. and Schapira A.H.V. (1997)  Molecular mechanisms in mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Human Molecular Genetics 6, 935-942.

Bodnar A.G., Kim N.W., Effros R.B. and Chiu C.-P. (1996) 1/1/1996 Mechanism of telomerase induction during T cell activation. Experimental Cell Research 228, 58-64.

Bodnar A.G., Cooper J.M., Leonard J.V. and Schapira A.H.V. (1995)  Respiratory-deficient human fibroblasts exhibiting defective mitochondrial DNA replication. Biochemical Journal 305, 817-822.

Bodnar A.G., Cooper J.M., Holt I.J., Leonard J.V. and Schapira A.H.V. (1993)  Nuclear complementation restores mtDNA levels in cultured cells from a patient with mtDNA depletion. American Journal of Human Genetics 53, 663-669.

Bodnar A.G. and Rachubinski, R.A. (1991)  Characterization of integral membrane polypeptides of rat liver peroxisomes isolated from untreated and clofibrate-treated rats. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 69, 499-508.

Swinkles B.W., Gould S.J., Bodnar A.G., Rachubinski R.A. and Subramani S. (1991)  A novel, cleavable peroxisomal targeting signal at the amino-terminus of the rat 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase. EMBO Journal 10, 3255-3262.

Bodnar A.G. and Rachubinski R.A. (1990)  Cloning and sequence determination of cDNA encoding a second rat liver peroxisomal 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase. Gene 91, 193-199.

Nuttley W.M., Bodnar A.G., Mangroo D. and Rachubinski R.A. (1990)  Isolation and characterization of membranes from oleic acid-induced peroxisomes of Candida tropicalis. Journal of Cell Science 95, 463-470.