Department: Biochemistry, University of Toronto
In a broad, overarching theme, our lab focuses on investigating mechanisms of drug toxicity and damage. Much of the unpredictability of drug toxicity is from inadequate pre-clinical models to identify cellular dysfunction that would require massive numbers to identify in Stage III/IV clinical trials, owing to the potential diversity of the clinical phenotype resulting from the underlying toxicity being observed on a whole-organism scale. This concept leads to another key issue with drug toxicity, specifically the development of assays to measure cellular dysfunction in more complex systems than at the single enzyme level, taking into consideration the cellular ecosystem using a systems biology approach. The mitochondria are the primary metabolic organelles in the cell and also play important roles in modulating cell health including when to induce cell death via several different pathways. This organelle then is often a key component of drug toxicity. Our lab addresses these concepts by looking at new models and assays to predict toxicity (including the use of stem-cell derived tissues), and investigating fundamental concepts in mitochondrial form, function and health. We link current concepts and problems in clinical medicine with our research techniques to form an active translational medicine research program.