Ajit Divakaruni, Ph.D.
23-305 Center for Health Sciences
Positions & Affiliations:
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
Our laboratory studies how energy metabolism and cellular substrate preference the balance between sugar, amino acid, and fatty acid oxidation can control cell function and fate. Much of our interest centers on mitochondria, organelles chiefly responsible for energy transduction but also involved in biosynthesis, ion and metal homeostasis, and signal transduction. Our work focuses on general mechanisms of metabolic control rather than a specific disease or pathology. Methodologically, we integrate bioenergetics, analytical chemistry (metabolomics and 13C isotope tracing), and live cell imaging to characterize mitochondrial metabolism in response to physiologically relevant stimuli and drug candidates. Ultimately, we aim to discover novel regulatory points of metabolism and develop mitochondrial pathways as therapeutic drug targets. Current projects in our lab include (i) understanding how inflammatory cytokines reprogram mitochondria, (ii) targeting mitochondrial metabolism to treat the aging brain, and (iii) developing methods to study bioenergetic function.
2006: B.S. (Honors; summa cum laude) University of Arizona: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Applied Mathematics
2011: Ph.D. University of Cambridge: Biochemistry (with Dr. Martin Brand) British Marshall Scholarship
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
2011 – 2017: Postdoctoral Fellow – University of California, San Diego: Pharmacology
Industry-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship with Seahorse Bioscience (now Agilent Technologies)
2017 – present: Assistant Professor – University of California, Los Angeles