Epigenetic Clocks

Dr Elissa Hamlat

University of California, San Francisco

Two individuals of the same chronological age can vary greatly in their risk of disease and dysfunction, and accumulating research suggests that variations in epigenetic aging may account for these differences in risk. Epigenetic “clocks” estimate biological age using the methylation patterns of specific sites in the genome. Epigenetic age predicts time-to-disease and time-to-death and correlates with cognitive/physical fitness, menopause, centenarian status, and cellular senescence.

Early-life adversity is associated with increased risk of serious illness and premature mortality. New evidence suggests woman with early life trauma are biologically older in adulthood than women of the same chronological age without early trauma and this may be one of the ways adversity in early life “gets under the skin” to lead to premature aging decades before serious disease. Further, modifying epigenetic aging might be an effective way to extend healthspan and reduce the burdens of aging.


Dr. Elissa Hamlat received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. After completing her clinical internship at the University of Illinois, Chicago, she was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Hamlat is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. At UCSF, she is part of the Center for Health and Community and the Aging and Metabolism Center, and her work examines the biological processes underlying relationships between early life factors and aging-related outcomes. Dr. Hamlat also investigates the role of race and ethnicity in these processes and how they may contribute to health disparities, during aging. She is especially interested in factors that may influence women’s health, including risk for depression, during the pubertal and menopause transitions.