Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Preferred method of communication
Research and teaching
- Gene regulation
Our studies focus on understanding basic mechanisms regulating mitochondrial function. In particular, we are interested in understanding mitochondrial dynamics, the process by which mitochondria move within the cell and change their shape by divding and fusing. In addition, we study how mitochondria maintain and express their individual genomes. Importantly, these processes are related, as the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) is present in hundreds of copies per cell that are distributed through the dynamic mitochondrial network, and we know that impairing the processes of mitochondrial fission and fusion has detrimental effects on mtDNA maintenance. One way we are learning more about these important processes is to study novel disease-causing mutations in genes that regulate mitochondrial dynamics and mtDNA. In this respect, our clinical connections with the Alberta Children’s Hospital (Drs Aneal Khan, and Micheil Innes) and Foothills Hospital (Dr. Gerald Pfeffer) have fostered collaborations where we have identified and characterized novel mitochondrial disease-causing mutations. Notably, many of these mitochondrial disease patients have neuronal developmental issues. In addition, we are interested in translating our understanding of mitochondrial function into clinical models. In this context, we have developed collaborations at the University of Calgary that investigate and target mitochondrial dysfunction in Austism Spectrum Disorder (Drs. Jong Rho and Deborah Kurrasch), Traumatic Brain Injury (Dr. Micheal Esser), and anesthesia-induced neuronal damage (Dr. Naweed Syed).