Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Staff Profile

Dr Joao Passos

Reader in Biology of Ageing




João Passos is a lecturer at the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing and Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences. He graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Porto having spent a year conducting research at the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology in Porto. He then integrated the graduate program from Porto University, GABBA and obtained his PhD from Newcastle University in 2007.

Dr. Passos has made important contributions to understanding the impact of mitochondria and telomere dysfunction during cellular ageing. A major milestone was his 2007 paper in PLoS Biology. This work has thrown new light on the underlying causes of the marked stochastic variations seen in replicative senescence which involve mitochondria and telomeres. This work featured in The Scientist as a top article in ageing and was recommended by the Faculty of 1000.

In 2010 Dr. Passos’s scientific achievements and their potential were recognized by the award of the highly prestigious BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship. Since then, Dr. Passos has been running a highly active research group and is deputy lead of the “Mechanisms of ageing theme” at the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing. His group is investigating mechanisms involved in maintenance of cellular senescence in particular the role of mitochondria and telomeres both in vitro and in vivo. His group’s paper published in 2012 in Nature Communications demonstrates how cellular senescence depends on chronic DNA-damage signaling from irreparable damage to telomeres. Dr. Passos has published more than 35 papers in leading scientific periodicals on the subject of biology of ageing and is associate editor for 3 of the top journals in ageing research: Aging Cell, Mechanisms of Ageing and Development & Biogerontology. He also serves in the BBSRC panel.


Research and Funding:

Joao Passos's Lab is investigating mechanisms involved in maintenance of cellular senescence in particular the role of mitochondria and telomeres both in vitro and in vivo.

Dr. Passos is PI in several grants investigating different mechanisms underlying cellular senescence (funded by BBSRC and BHF) and PhD studentship funded by BBSRC and MRC including a BBSRC/Unilever funded PhD Industrial CASE studentship.

He is part of the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA) involving the Universities of Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield and the MRC centre CAV.

He is also a PI in the ?3M FP7 European grant MARie CuRIe AGEing Network led by the University of Groningen.


Dr. Passos is very active in engagement activities and has encouraged a culture of public engagement within his research group:

JP participated as a judge in “Debating Matters” involving school children debating about the impact of an ageing population on society; JP did a Café Scientifique on the subject of Biology of Ageing organized by the British Council; Rhys Anderson a PhD student from JP’s lab recently won the “People’s choice award” at the prestigious “3 minute thesis competition” which allowed him to produce an animation video of our research:; members from JP’s lab participated in events such as: Healthy ageing: live better for longer! at the BODY WORLDS Vital exhibition and The project Old Vic NewVoices where a community play about ageing is being developed).


Postgraduate Teaching

Dr. Passos teaches at the Biology of Ageing MRes course. He also supervises several undergraduate, MRes and PhD students in his lab.