Basic Science Research
Basic science research within the Anesthesiology Department is centered on the theme of mitochondria. Although the study of such a simple organelle within the cell (the "ATP cow") might be perceived as restrictive, the last decade has seen a resurgence in mitochondrial research, and the mitochondrion now sits front-and-center in such diverse fields as neurodegeneration, cardiac physiology, metabolism/diabetes, and cancer.
Our three NIH-funded basic science labs exploit a variety of state-of-the-art methods to study mitochondrial function and dysfunction in both normal and disease states. This includes fluorescent multi-photon microscopy, optogenetics, metabolomics, Seahorse extracellular flux analysis, molecular biology, transgenic and knockout mice, perfused organ preparations, and primary cell culture (neurons, cardiomyocytes, pancreatic cells), as well as classical isolated mitochondrial techniques and enzyme assays. The Johnson lab focuses on mitochondria in Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases, the Wojtovich lab studies mitochondrial bioenergetics and reactive oxygen species generation, and the Brookes lab studies the role of mitochondria in cardiac ischemic injury and cardioprotection. Collaborations with scientists in the Cancer center, and the Departments of Medicine, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology/Physiology, are studying mitochondrial responses to anesthesia, control of mitochondrial redox state, and mitochondria in the model organism C. elegans.