Cancer Research

A provocative new model proposed by molecular biologist John Tower of the University of Southern California may help answer an enduring scientific question: Why do women tend to live longer than men?

That tendency holds true in humans and many other mammals as well as in the much-studied fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

In genetic studies of Drosophila, Tower and his team have shown that genes known to increase longevity always affect male and female flies differently.

"For a long time, we only did experiments in one sex or the other, depending on what was convenient," said Tower, an associate professor of biological sciences in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences who has studied the genetics of aging in Drosophila for the last two decades.