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Christian Sell

Christian Sell, PhD

Associate Professor

Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


  • PhD in Pathology - Albany Medical College (1990)

Awards & Honors

  • Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in Aging "Young Investigator Award"

Memberships / Professional Affiliations

  • Endocrine Society
  • Gerontological Society of America
  • IGF Society
  • Philadelphia Cancer Research Association

Christian Sell, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Drexel University College of Medicine. Prior to joining the College of Medicine, he was an associate investigator at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He had previously worked as an assistant professor at Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel College of Medicine), where he earned the Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in Aging “Young Investigator” Award, and also served as the director of the Molecular Pathobiology Graduate program. In addition, Dr. Sell has held positions at Thomas Jefferson University and Temple University.

He is a member of the Endocrine Society, the Gerontological Society of America, IGF Society, and Philadelphia Cancer Research Association.

Research Interests

Biology of aging; neuroendocrine networks.


Age is the greatest risk factor for the majority of human diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. Aging occurs at both the cellular and organismal level and the Sell lab utilizes multiple approaches to understand the aging process and to identify interventions that can ameliorate age-related declines to improve human health. We use cellular approaches to understand mechanisms and work to move these mechanistic insights into clinical use.

The field has identified a major pathway that can modulate the aging process (known as the mTOR pathway), which is a part of the neuroendocrine signaling network that regulates both development and aging. Our lab was the first to report that this pathway is hyperactivated in aged cells and we have focused on this pathway to understand both the mechanisms involved and to leverage drugs known to target the pathway to improve health. We have found that targeting mTOR using an FDA approved drug known as rapamycin can extend the lifespan of human cells and decrease the appearance of aged cells in human skin.

We use a variety of approaches including cell culture, genomics, proteomics, gene targeting and cellular reprograming to further understand the impact of rapamycin and the role of the mTOR pathway on the aging process and to discover new interventions that will delay or prevent cellular aging. Our lab is interested in evaluating the potential for interventions targeting the aging process to improve functionality at all levels including the importance of these pathways in the central nervous system, cancer development, and other age-related diseases.

Aged human cells showing abnormal folding of the nuclear envelope

Aged human cells showing abnormal folding of the nuclear envelope

The nuclear envelope of human fibroblast cells is green in this photomicrograph

Neurons created in the Sell lab from human fibroblasts

Neurons created in the Sell lab from human fibroblasts

Blue is nuclear DNA and red is beta-III tubulin, a neuronal cytoskeleton protein

In the Media


Selected Publications

"Ras mutations selectively alter tight junction permeability"
Sell C, Francis MK, Mullin J
Mol Cell Biol 2005;16:5538-50 (2005)

"Activated Ras enhances insulin-like growth factor 1 mediated induction of vascular endothelial growth factor in postate epithelial cells"
Stearns M, Tran J, Zhang H, Francis MK, Sell C
Cancer Res 2005;65:2085-8 (2005)

"Ectopic expression of DICE1 suppresses tumor cell growth"
Wieland I, Sell C, Weidel UH, Wieacker P
Oncol Rep 2004;12:207-11 (2004)

"Extension of replicative lifespan in WI-38 human fibroblasts is accompanied by suppression of p21Waf1/Cip1/Sdi1 levels"
Mawal-Dewan M, Frisoni L, Cristofalo VJ, Sell C
Exp Cell Res. 2003:285;91-98 (2003)

"Downregulation of IRS-1 protein in thapsigargin treated human prostate epithelial cells"
Zhang H, Hoff H, Sell C
Exp Cell Res. 2003:289;352-358 (2003)

"Molecular characterization of the DICE1 (DDX26) tumor suppressor gene in lung carcinoma cells"
Wieland I, Ropke A, Stumm M, Sell C, Wiedle U, Wieacker P
Oncol Res. 2002:12;491-500 (2002)

"Regulation of collagenase expression during replicative senescence by Akt-forkhead signaling"
Mawal-Dewan M, Lorenzini A, Frisoni L, Zhang H, Cristofalo VJ, Sell C
J Biol Chem. 2002:277;7857-7864 (2002)

"Mitogen independent phosphorylation of S6K1 and decreased ribosomal S6 phosporylation in senescent human fibroblast cells"
Zhang H, Hoff H, Marinucci T, Cristofalo VJ, Sell C
Exp Cell Res. 2000:259;284-292 (2000)