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Mitochondrial Function as a Therapeutic Target for Alzheimer's Disease

Mitochondrial Function as a Therapeutic Target for Alzheimer's Disease
Reported by
Catherine Zandonella

Posted July 06, 2010

Presented By

Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, the Brain Dysfunction Discussion Group, and The New York Academy of Sciences.


Alzheimer's disease will strike one of every three adults. Although much is known about the telltale signatures of the disease—protein plaques and tangled nerve cell fibers in the brain—the true cause of this disease remains unknown.

A number of lines of research point toward mitochondria, the cellular energy-producing organelles, as playing a causative role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Numerous studies have found that people with AD experience declines in brain energy metabolism that begin years before the onset of symptoms. An individual's type of mitochondrial DNA, or haplotype, influences one's risk of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Researchers came together at the New York Academy of Sciences on May 13, 2010, to discuss their latest discoveries and explore ways to harness therapeutics to repair mitochondria and treat AD.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.

Presentations are available from:

Douglas C. Wallace (University of California, Irvine)
Xiongwei Zhu (Case Western Reserve University)
Tomas A. Prolla (University of Wisconsin – Madison)
P. Hemachandra Reddy (Oregon Health & Science University)
M. Flint Beal (Weill Medical College of Cornell University)
William Kirby Gottschalk (Duke University)
Stuart A. Lipton (Sanford | Burnham Institute for Medical Research)
Shi Du Yan (Taub Institute of Columbia University)
Jerry R. Colca (Metabolic Solutions Development Company)


  • Seahorse Bioscience

Web Sites

Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation
The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation funds drug discovery research.

United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation is a patient advocacy group. Their mission is to promote research and education for the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of mitochondrial disorders and to provide support to affected individuals and families.

National Institute on Aging
The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center Web site helps people find current, comprehensive Alzheimer's disease (AD) information and resources from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Journal Articles

Douglas C. Wallace

Coskun PE, Beal MF, Wallace DC. 2004. Alzheimer's brains harbor somatic mtDNA control-region mutations that suppress mitochondrial transcription and replication. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 10726-10731. Full Text

Coskun PE, Wyrembak J, Derbereva O, et al. 2010. Systemic mitochondrial dysfunction and the etiology of Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome dementia. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2010 May 12.[Epub ahead of print]

Xiongwei Zhu

Moreira PI, Sayre LM, Zhu X, et al. 2010. Detection and localization of markers of oxidative stress by in situ methods: application in the study of Alzheimer disease. Methods Mol. Biol. 610: 419-434.

Nunomura A, Tamaoki T, Tanaka K, et al. 2010. Intraneuronal amyloid beta accumulation and oxidative damage to nucleic acids in Alzheimer disease. Neurobiol. Dis. 37: 731-737.

Smith MA, Zhu X, Tabaton M, et al. 2010. Increased iron and free radical generation in preclinical Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment. J. Alzheimers Dis. 19: 363-372. Full Text

Su B, Wang X, Zheng L, et al. 2009. Abnormal mitochondrial dynamics and neurodegenerative diseases. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1802: 135-142.

Wang X, Su B, Fujioka H, Zhu X. 2008. Dynamin-like protein 1 reduction underlies mitochondrial morphology and distribution abnormalities in fibroblasts from sporadic Alzheimer's disease patients. Am. J. Pathol. 173: 470-482. Full Text

Wang X, Su B, Lee HG, et al. 2009. Impaired balance of mitochondrial fission and fusion in Alzheimer's disease. J. Neurosci. 29: 9090-9103. Full Text

Wang X, Su B, Zheng L, et al. 2009. The role of abnormal mitochondrial dynamics in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. J. Neurochem. 109 Suppl. 1: 153-159. Full Text

Wang X, Su B, Siedlak SL, et al. 2008. Amyloid-β overproduction causes abnormal mitochondrial dynamics via differential modulation of mitochondrial fission/fusion proteins. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 19318-19323. Full Text

Tomas A. Prolla

Chen H, Vermulst M, Wang YE, et al. 2010. Mitochondrial fusion is required for mtDNA stability in skeletal muscle and tolerance of mtDNA mutations. Cell 141: 280-289.

Kujoth GC, Hiona A, Pugh TD, et al. 2005. Mitochondrial DNA mutations, oxidative stress, and apoptosis in mammalian aging. Science 309: 481-484.

Someya S, Prolla TA. 2010. Mitochondrial oxidative damage and apoptosis in age-related hearing loss. Mech. Ageing Dev. Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Someya S, Tanokura M, Weindruch R, et al. 2010. Effects of caloric restriction on age-related hearing loss in rodents and rhesus monkeys. Curr. Aging Sci. 3: 20-25.

Someya S, Xu J, Kondo K, et al. 2009. Age-related hearing loss in C57BL/6J mice is mediated by Bak-dependent mitochondrial apoptosis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 19432-19437. Full Text

Hiromi Sesaki

Cerveny KL, Tamura Y, Zhang Z, et al. 2007. Regulation of mitochondrial fusion and division. Trends Cell Biol. 17: 563-569.

Sesaki H, Jensen RE. 1999. Division versus fusion: Dnm1p and Fzo1p antagonistically regulate mitochondrial shape. J. Cell Biol. 147: 699-706. Full Text

Gary E. Gibson

Area-Gomez E, de Groof AJ, Boldogh I, et al. 2009. Presenilins are enriched in endoplasmic reticulum membranes associated with mitochondria. Am. J. Pathol. 175: 1810-1816.

Gibson GE, Shi Q. 2010. A mitocentric view of Alzheimer's disease suggests multi-faceted treatments. J. Alzheimers Dis. May 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Gibson GE, Starkov A, Blass JP, et al. 2010. Cause and consequence: mitochondrial dysfunction initiates and propagates neuronal dysfunction, neuronal death and behavioral abnormalities in age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1802: 122-134.

Gibson GE, Karuppagounder SS, Shi Q. 2008. Oxidant-induced changes in mitochondria and calcium dynamics in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1147: 221-232. Full Text

Karuppagounder SS, Pinto JT, Xu H, et al. 2009. Dietary supplementation with resveratrol reduces plaque pathology in a transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease. Neurochem. Int. 54: 111-118. Epub 2008 Nov 8.

Karuppagounder SS, Xu H, Shi Q, et al. 2009. Thiamine deficiency induces oxidative stress and exacerbates the plaque pathology in Alzheimer's mouse model. Neurobiol. Aging 30: 1587-1600.

Shi Q, Xu H, Kleinman WA, Gibson GE. 2008. Novel functions of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex may mediate diverse oxidant-induced changes in mitochondrial enzymes associated with Alzheimer's disease. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1782: 229-238.

Shi Q, Gibson GE. 2007. Oxidative stress and transcriptional regulation in Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Dis. Assoc. Disord. 21: 276-291.

P. Hemachandra Reddy

Manczak M, Anekonda TS, Henson E, et al. 2006. Mitochondria are a direct site of Aβ accumulation in Alzheimer's disease neurons: implications for free radical generation and oxidative damage in disease progression. Hum. Mol. Genet. 15: 1437-1449. Full Text

Manczak M, Mao P, Calkins M, et al. 2010. Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants protect against amyloid-beta toxicity in Alzheimer's disease neurons. J. Alzheimers Dis. 20 Suppl. 2: 609-631.

Reddy PH, Manczak M, Mao P, et al. 2010. Amyloid-β and mitochondria in aging and Alzheimer's disease: implications for synaptic damage and cognitive decline. J. Alzheimers Dis. 20 Suppl. 2: 499-512.

Reddy PH. 2009. Role of mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases: mitochondria as a therapeutic target in Alzheimer's disease. CNS Spectr. 14(8 Suppl. 7):8-13; discussion 16-18.

Reddy PH, Manczak M, Zhao W, et al. 2009. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor antibody suppresses microglial activity: implications for anti-inflammatory effects in Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis. J. Neurochem. 111: 1514-1528.

Reddy PH. 2009. Amyloid-β, mitochondrial structural and functional dynamics in Alzheimer's disease. Exp. Neurol. 218: 286-292.

Reddy PH. 2008. Mitochondrial medicine for aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Neuromolecular Med. 10: 291-315.

Reddy PH, Beal MF. 2008. Amyloid-β, mitochondrial dysfunction and synaptic damage: implications for cognitive decline in aging and Alzheimer's disease. Trends Mol. Med. 14: 45-53.

Reddy PH. 2007. Mitochondrial dysfunction in aging and Alzheimer's disease: strategies to protect neurons. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 9: 1647-1658.

Reddy PH. 2006. Mitochondrial oxidative damage in aging and Alzheimer's disease: implications for mitochondrially targeted antioxidant therapeutics. J. Biomed. Biotechnol. (3):31372. Full Text

M. Flint Beal

Beal MF. 2009. Therapeutic approaches to mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. Parkinsonism Relat. Disord. 15 Suppl. 3:S189-S194.

Dumont M, Lin MT, Beal MF. 2010. Mitochondria and antioxidant targeted therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer's disease. J. Alzheimers Dis. Apr 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Spindler M, Beal MF, Henchcliffe C. 2009. Coenzyme Q10 effects in neurodegenerative disease. Neuropsychiatr Dis. Treat. 5: 597-610. Full Text

Stack C, Ho D, Wille E, et al. 2010. Triterpenoids CDDO-ethyl amide and CDDO-trifluoroethyl amide improve the behavioral phenotype and brain pathology in a transgenic mouse model of Huntington's disease. Free Radic. Biol. Med. Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Thomas B, Beal MF. 2010. Mitochondrial therapies for Parkinson's disease. Mov. Disord. 25 Suppl. 1: S155-S160.

William Kirby Gottschalk

Lutz MW, Crenshaw DG, Saunders AM, Roses AR. 2010. Genetic variation at a single locus and age-of-onset for Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's Dement. 6: 125-131.

Roses AR, Lutz MW, Amrine-Madsen H, et al. 2009. A TOMM40 variable-length polymorphism predicts the age of late-onset Alzheimer's disease. December 22 [Epub ahead of print]

Roses AR. 2010. An inherited poly-T repeat genotype in TOMM40 in Alzheimer's disease. Arch. Neurol. 67: 536-541.

Stuart A. Lipton

Cho DH, Nakamura T, Fang J, et al. 2009. S-nitrosylation of Drp1 mediates β-amyloid-related mitochondrial fission and neuronal injury. Science 324: 102-105. Full Text

Gu Z, Nakamura T, Lipton SA. 2010. Redox reactions induced by nitrosative stress mediate protein misfolding and mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases. Mol. Neurobiol. 41: 55-72. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

Nakamura T, Lipton SA. 2010. Redox regulation of mitochondrial fission, protein misfolding, synaptic damage, and neuronal cell death: potential implications for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Apoptosis Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Nakamura T, Lipton SA. 2010. Preventing Ca2+-mediated nitrosative stress in neurodegenerative diseases: possible pharmacological strategies. Cell Calcium 47: 190-197.

Okamoto S-i, Pouladi M, Talantova M, et al. 2009. Balance between synaptic versus extrasynaptic NMDA receptor activity influences inclusions and neurotoxicity of mutant huntingtin. Nature Med. 15: 1407-1413. Full Text

Uehara T, Nakamura T, Yao D, et al. 2006. S-Nitrosylation of protein-disulphide isomerase links protein misfolding to neurodegeneration. Nature 441: 513-517.

Shi Du Yan

Caspersen C, Wang N, Yao J, et al. 2005. Mitochondrial Aβ: a potential focal point for neuronal metabolic dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease. FASEB J. 19: 2040-2041.

Chen JX, Yan SD. 2007. Amyloid-β-induced mitochondrial dysfunction. J. Alzheimers Dis. 12: 177-184. (PDF, 126 KB) Full Text

Du H, Guo L, Fang F, et al. 2008. Cyclophilin D deficiency attenuates mitochondrial and neuronal perturbation and ameliorates learning and memory in Alzheimer's disease. Nat. Med. 14: 1097-1105. Full Text

Du H, Guo L, Zhang W, et al. 2009. Cyclophilin D deficiency improves mitochondrial function and learning/memory in aging Alzheimer disease mouse model. Neurobiol. Aging Apr 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Du H, Yan SS. 2010. Mitochondrial permeability transition pore in Alzheimer's disease: Cyclophilin D and amyloidβ. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1802: 198-204. Epub 2009 Jul 16.

Du H, Yan SS. 2010. Mitochondrial medicine for neurodegenerative diseases. Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 42: 560-572.

Lustbader JW, Cirilli M, Lin C, et al. 2004. ABAD directly links Aβ to mitochondrial toxicity in Alzheimer's disease. Science 304: 448-452.

Takuma K, Fang F, Zhang W, et al. 2009. RAGE-mediated signaling contributes to intraneuronal transport of amyloid-β and neuronal dysfunction. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 20021-20026. Full Text

Jerry R. Colca

Colca JR. 2006. Insulin sensitizers may prevent metabolic inflammation. Biochem. Pharmacol. 72: 125-131.

Colca JR, Kletzien RF. 2006. What has prevented the expansion of insulin sensitisers? Expert Opin. Investig. Drugs 15: 205-210.

Colca JR, McDonald WG, Waldon DJ, et al. 2004. Identification of a novel mitochondrial protein ("mitoNEET") cross-linked specifically by a thiazolidinedione photoprobe. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 286: E252-E260. Full Text

Wiley SE, Murphy AN, Ross SA, et al. 2007. MitoNEET is an iron-containing outer mitochondrial membrane protein that regulates oxidative capacity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 5318-523. Full Text


M. Flint Beal, MD

Weill Medical College of Cornell University
e-mail | web site | publications

M. Flint Beal is an internationally recognized authority on neurodegenerative disorders. He is the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University – New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Beal received his medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1976 and did his internship and first year residency in Medicine at New York – Cornell before completing his residency in Neurology at The Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined the neurology faculty at Harvard in 1983. Beal was Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Neurochemistry laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital before moving to Cornell.

Beal's research has focused on the mechanism of neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He is the author or co-author of more than 400 scientific articles and more than 125 books, book chapters and reviews. He serves on the editorial boards of seven journals, including the Journal of Neurochemistry, the Journal of Neurological Sciences, Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, Experimental Neurology, and Neurobiology of Disease. Beal is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jerry R. Colca, PhD

Metabolic Solutions Development Company
e-mail | web site | publications

Jerry Colca, PhD, is a co-founder, part owner, and president/chief scientific officer of Metabolic Solutions Development Company (MSDC; in Kalamazoo, MI. Colca has spent his professional career studying the endocrine control of metabolism as relates to diabetes. He has a BS in Biology and an MS and PhD in Physiology and Biochemistry from the University of Houston where he studied the regulation of secretion of pancreatic hormones. His postdoctoral training at Washington University concentrated on the biochemistry of isolated pancreatic islets and the study of stimulus–secretion coupling in the control of metabolism.

Colca joined the Upjohn Company in 1984 to study to the mechanism of action of the thiazolidinediones and was instrumental in selection and development of pioglitazone hydrochloride (Actos®) as an anti-diabetic agent through Phase 2A clinical studies. The company formally known as Upjohn exited the insulin-sensitizing field in 1993. Colca remained with the Upjohn Company through the mergers with Pharmacia, Monsanto-Searle, and Pfizer until he retired from the merged company in 2005. During this time he was leader of diabetes discovery team in Kalamazoo, helped build a new diabetes discovery effort in Sweden after the merger with Pharmacia, and finally building a new targets discovery effort in St. Louis after the Pfizer merger. Colca has been interested in the mechanism of action of the insulin sensitizer TZDs from the early days of their discovery and especially in the safety and pharmacology of pioglitazone. In January of 2006, Colca co-founded MSDC with Rolf Kletzien to take advantage of their unique insight into these molecules.

Gary E. Gibson, PhD

Weill Cornell Medical College at Burke Medical Research Institute
e-mail | web site | publications

Gary E. Gibson received his BS degree in zoology and chemistry from the University of Wyoming. He received his PhD in physiology with emphasis in biochemistry and neuroscience at Cornell University. He did his postdoctoral work at UCLA and was on the faculty at UCLA. He then moved to Cornell University Medical College and Burke Medical Research Institute. He is currently professor of neuroscience, and is also a member of the graduate program in neuroscience at Cornell Medical College.

Gibson also served as the associate director of the Dementia Research Service. Gibson received the American Society for Neurochemistry award for outstanding young investigator. He has given lectures at many institutions and honorary lectures including the Deans hour at Cornell University Medical College, the NIH Director's Talk and the Visek Lectureship at the University of Illinois. He has served on over 25 NIH grant review panels and regularly reviews grants for the Alzheimer Association. He is a member of numerous scientific societies and was the secretary of the American Society for Neurochemistry. He has served(s) on the editorial board of several journals including Neurochemical Research, Neurochemistry International, the Journal of Neurochemistry, Mitochondria and the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. He has been continuously funded by NIH grants for his whole career at Cornell/Burke. Within the last three years he has edited three volumes on the role of mitochondria and energy metabolism in the brain including a NY Academy of Sciences volume (#1147). Many of his 157 research papers and 76 reviews reflect his long research interest in the role of calcium and mitochondria in normal brain function as well as in Alzheimer's disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

William Kirby Gottschalk, PhD

Duke University
e-mail | publications

W. Kirby Gottschalk has conducted extensive research on the effects of physiological and pharmacological perturbations on mitochondrial function, in both academia and private industry. He has investigated the mechanism of insulin regulation of mitochondrial function, including respiration and enzymes of the TCA cycle, oxidative phosphorylation and substrate transport, both in vivo with primary cells and ex vivo, with the goal of understanding how mitochondrial function contributed to insulin resistance. As senior investigator and section head in the Department of Metabolic Diseases at GlaxoSmithKine, Gottschalk headed a research group who designed and implemented mitochondrial functional assays for target validation, mechanism-of-action studies, and drug toxicology studies. As a member of the Alzheimer's team at GSK, he led the work that first showed that PPARγ agonists enhance cerebral glucose metabolism in vivo.

Stuart A. Lipton, MD, PhD

Sanford | Burnham Institute for Medical Research
e-mail | web site | publications

Stuart A. Lipton is professor and scientific director of the Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research at the Sanford | Burnham Institute for Medical Research. He is a professor at the Salk Institute, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California, San Diego. Educated at three Ivy League universities, Lipton is a research scientist and clinical neurologist. He completed his clinical and scientific training at Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Torsten N. Wiesel when Wiesel won the Nobel Prize. Lipton then spent 25 years on the faculty at Harvard before moving to La Jolla in the fall of 1999.

He is best known for discovering the mechanism of action and contributing to the clinical development of the latest FDA-approved treatment for Alzheimer's disease (memantine/Namenda). His group also characterized the molecular pathways for protecting nerve cells by erythropoietin (a drug marketed for the treatment of anemia). Lipton and collaborator Stamler discovered the chemical reaction termed S-nitrosylation as a ubiquitous redox-regulator of protein function. Additionally, Lipton was the first to clone and characterize the transcription factor MEF2C, and showed that it is a redox-regulated master swtich for the generation of new nerve cells (termed neurogenesis) from human ESCs and iPSCs. Lipton's group has also shown that dysregulation of MEF2C is involved in the etiology of autism-spectrum disorders. In 2004, Lipton won the Ernst Jung Prize in Medicine, considered one of the top five or six medical prizes worldwide.

Tomas A. Prolla, PhD

University of Wisconsin-Madison
e-mail | web site | publications

Tomas A. Prolla received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990, and his PhD from the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University in 1994. He is currently professor of genetics & medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Prolla is internationally recognized for research in two main areas, gene expression changes associated with aging, and the role of mitochondria in aging. Prolla's research group was the first to employ large-scale gene expression profiling using DNA microarrays to the analysis of aging and its retardation by caloric restriction. Prolla has also generated a widely used mouse model of aging, mice with a defective DNA polymerase gamma that result in the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations. Recently, Prolla has focused on the role of mitochondria and associated apoptotic signaling in specific aspects of aging, including age-related hearing loss and sarcopenia. Prolla has also co-founded LifeGen Technologies in 2001, a company focused on the use of transcriptional markers of aging and caloric restriction in the development of aging interventions.

P. Hemachandra Reddy, PhD

Oregon Health & Science University
e-mail | web site | publications

P. Hemachandra Reddy is an associate scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). He received his BSc and MSc in biology from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, India. He received an MPhil in human cytogenetics from Delhi University. He was a commonwealth scholar (1990–1993) before receiving his PhD (1994) in human genetics from London University. He did his postdoctoral training (1995–2000) at the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. After his postdoctoral training, he joined the OHSU–Neurological Sciences Institute Faculty in July 2000, and joined the primate center in July 2008.

Reddy has received several awards and honors, including Commonwealth Scholarship from Commonwealth Commission, Great Britain; Fellows Award for Research Excellence from National Institutes of Health; Alzheimer Award from the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, and Technology Innovations Award from Oregon Health and Science University. Reddy is a standing member of the Veteran Affairs Merit Review Study Section, and has served on several NIH study sections, including the section Cell Death in Neurodegeneration. Reddy is an editorial board member for seven journals. Reddy is an expert in mitochondrial biology and function, gene expression analysis, and neurodegenerative diseases. The research focus in the Reddy laboratory is on understanding molecular and cellular bases of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Currently, the Reddy laboratory is focusing on unraveling the connection between amyloid beta and synaptic damage, and amyloid beta and mitochondrial oxidative damage in AD. The Reddy laboratory is funded by National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer's Association, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Medivation, and KaloBios Pharmaceuticals.

Hiromi Sesaki, PhD

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
e-mail | web site | publications

Hiromi Sesaki received his PhD from the Department of Physiology at Osaka University in Japan. He is currently assistant professor of cell biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The laboratory of Dr. Sesaki is studying mitochondrial dynamics and membrane biogenesis using yeast and mice.

Douglas C. Wallace, PhD

University of California Irvine
e-mail | web site | publications

Douglas C. Wallace is the Donald Bren Professor of Molecular Medicine, director, ORU for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics (MAMMAG), and professor of biological chemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology, and pediatrics. Wallace has been a pioneer in the study of human mitochondrial genetics and the role of mitochondrial DNA variation in human evolution, disease, cancer, and aging. In the 1970s Wallace defined the basic principles of human mitochondrial DNA genetics, demonstrating that the human mitochondrial DNA encodes heritable traits, is maternally transmitted, has a high mutation rate, that intracellular mixtures on mutant and normal mitochondrial DNA are common and can segregate randomly during both mitotic and meiotic cell division, and that the clinical phenotype of a mutation depends on the severity of the mitochondrial defect and the reliance of each individual tissue on mitochondrial energy production.

Once Wallace had defined the basic principles of mitochondrial DNA genetics, he applied these principles to the investigation of human origins and disease. Wallace also identified the first maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA diseases and has subsequently shown that deleterious mitochondrial DNA mutations are common and result in a plethora of complex multi-system diseases which encompasses all of the clinical phenotypes associated with aging, including neurological problems such as deafness, blindness, movement disorders, and dementias; cardiovascular disease; muscle degeneration and pain; renal dysfunction; endocrine disorders including diabetes and cancer.

Shi Du Yan, MD

Taub Institute of Columbia University
e-mail | web site | publications

Shi Du Yan (Shirley ShiDu Yan) is a professor in the Department of Pathology and Surgery at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University, New York. Yan's research focuses on investigating cellular and molecular mechanisms of cell stress and survival in neurodegenerative disorders relevant to Alzheimer's disease. She was the first to identify the specific cellular (RAGE) and mitochondrial (ABAD and cyclophilin D) targets of amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ) and found the evidence of Aβ-mediated mitochondrial, synaptic, and neuronal dysfunction. Her recent studies highlight the significant impact of mitochondrial Aβ on neuronal stress and cognitive decline relevant to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease. Yan and her research team's findings have been published in worldwide leading journals including Nature, Science, Nature Medicine, Proceeding of National Academy Sciences, and in first class professional journals. Yan has authored 140 publications. Her research project is supported by National Institute of Health and Alzheimer's Association. She received several awards including the Zenith Fellow Award from the Alzheimer's Association in 2005.

Xiongwei Zhu, PhD

Case Western Reserve University
e-mail | web site | publications

Xiongwei Zhu received his BS in 1995 and MS in 1998 from the Department of Biochemistry at Wuhan University in China. He received his PhD in 2002 from the Department of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University. He became assistant professor in 2004 and rose to associate professor in 2009. Zhu's research focuses on the mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative diseases and his research program is supported by National Institute of Health, Alzheimer's Association and American Parkinson Disease Association. Zhu is the recipient of several awards including the Junior Faculty Award from 9th International Conference on Alzheimer Disease and Parkinson Disease (2009), and the Young Investigator Lectureship Award from the International Society for Neurochemistry (2009).

Catherine Zandonella

Catherine Zandonella is a science writer based in New York City, covering such topics as environmental science, public health, and applied technology. She has a master's degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Zandonella has written for a number of publications, including New Scientist, The Scientist, and Nature.