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Mitochondria are the energy production sites of cells and play a central role in cell metabolism and apoptosis. Over the last decade, accumulating evidence has suggested a causative link between mitochondria, cancer, cardiac function and aging. We are interested in understanding how mitochondria are regulated by cellular ionic signals and how mitochondrial structural and functional status contributes to cellular growth, aging and cardiac physiology.

Research Interests

Mitochondrial Structure and Functional Integrity

My group is interested in elucidating signaling pathways and mechanisms involved in maintaining mitochondrial structure and physiological function. Apart from mitochondrial proteins, proteins encoded by nuclear DNA also play an active role in mitochondria. We study how various ions and ion transporters, as well as channels, participate in this process. We incorporate new technologies such as non-thermal plasma to study and modulate mitochondrial functions.

Role of Mitochondria in Cancer

Cancer is one of the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Even though there are several different types of cancer, the molecular signaling pathways involve energetics that often include mitochondria. We are interested in studying the role of mitochondrial structure and functional outputs in origin and development of cancers.

The Role of Mitochondria in the Aging Heart

The major detrimental variant in cardiovascular function and dysfunction is age. Cardiovascular diseases are the top killers in populations over the age of 65 in the developed and developing the world. The key focus in the clinic is to manage the cardiovascular diseases as the mechanism and underlying causes in cardiovascular dysfunction in aging population are not well-understood. Mitochondria and mitochondrial-mediated signaling pathways play an active role in aging and regulation of life span. Mitochondria are also increasingly associated with the cardiovascular dysfunction. My group studies mitochondrial dysfunction in aging animal models and how it affects the cardiovascular function and increase the risk of cardiovascular dysfunction. We use optical coherence tomography on Drosophila to study cardiac function with age.

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Shubha Gururaja Rao, PhD, MSc

Shubha Gururaja Rao, PhD, MSc
Research Assistant Professor