The overriding theme of research in our lab is the interaction between mitochondria and cell stress and its effect on the pathology of chronic disease and aging. Most people learn about mitochondria as kidney bean shaped structures that function as the “Powerhouse of the Cell” by generating chemical energy in the form of ATP. However, mitochondria are actually structurally and functionally dynamic organelles that sit at the nexus between cell energetics, redox biology, and cell signaling. As a result, mitochondrial biology controls many aspects of cell function and plays a critical role in cell, tissue, and organismal responses to acute and chronic stressors. Our interest in muscle satellite cells and regeneration is relatively new and came about as we became interested in the role mitochondrial play in muscle injury and recovery. The two main questions that drive most of our research are:
1) What are the structural changes that lead to increased mitochondrial redox stress with chronic disease?
2) Why does increased mitochondria redox stress translate to cell pathology in some circumstance and adaptive responses in others?
The second question has led us to start collaborations with other ISCRM labs to better understand how changes in mitochondrial function with age and chronic disease alter the ability of muscle satellite cells to respond to stimuli. Answering these questions will improve our understanding the role of mitochondria in disease to help develop targeted interventions to improve quality of life with age and chronic disease.