Marc Liesa, Ph.D.
27-100 Center for Health Sciences
Positions & Affiliations:
Assistant Professor In-Residence, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
Member, Molecular Biology Institute
Mitochondria are the organelles responsible for our need to breathe, as they use oxygen both to transform nutrients into usable energy and to build essential components constituting our bodies. Indeed, mitochondria are semi-autonomous organelles that contain their own genome, which encodes for 13 proteins essential to consume oxygen. For this reason, mitochondrial DNA mutations that blunt their capacity to consume oxygen are responsible of lethal and severe diseases. Moreover, changes in mitochondrial function are detected in neurodegenerative diseases, as well as in pathologies resulting of an imbalance in energy consumption, energy expenditure and nutrient handling, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the reduction in mitochondrial function observed with age is considered a major component driving fitness decline with age. In this context, our overarching research goals are:
1) Define the molecular machinery by which mitochondria can successfully adapt, protect themselves and execute their function in health.
2) Determine when the crosstalk between mitochondria and the redox state contribute to exacerbate metabolic diseases or represent an adaptation preventing their exacerbation.
3) Test whether the manipulation of the molecular machinery modulating and adapting mitochondrial function can be used to treat metabolic diseases.
Marc Liesa-Roig, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in-residence in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His laboratory seeks to identify mitochondrial mechanisms adapting and maladapting to metabolic diseases, with the goal to identify novel therapeutic targets. His research on mitochondria is focused in liver, pancreatic beta cells and brown adipose tissue. Dr. Liesa-Roig graduated with honors in Biochemistry at the Universitat de Barcelona (2003). He completed his doctoral studies late 2008 under the supervision of Prof. Antonio Zorzano at the IRB in Barcelona, examining the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics and Mfn2 in skeletal muscle and their role in insulin resistance. He then joined Boston University School Medicine as a post doctoral fellow in 2009, where he became an Instructor in 2013 and an Assistant Professor in 2015. Dr. Liesa-Roig is currently affiliated with the Molecular Biology Institute (MBI) and Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology (MCIP) interdepartmental programs at UCLA.