As major sites of oxidative energy metabolism, mitochondria are commonly known as the “powerhouses of the cell.” However, mitochondria are complex and dynamic organelles that do much more than just make ATP. For example, they are agents of regulated cell death (or apoptosis) and hubs of antiviral and other important signaling pathways. In addition, they house the essential mitochondrial genome (or mtDNA) that is inherited maternally in humans and causes cell, tissue and organismal dysfunction when mutated.
The research in my laboratory is directed toward understanding how mitochondria are involved in human disease and aging. This includes efforts to understand the mechanism of expression of mtDNA-encoded genes (and the nuclear-mitochondrial crosstalk required for this), elucidating signaling pathways that control mitochondrial function and respond to cellular stress, and generating/exploiting yeast, cell culture and animal models of how mitochondria are involved in aging and disease pathology.