Sercel, Alexander

Alexander is a student in the Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis home area of the MBIDP, where he works in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Teitell.  He joined the CMB training program in 2016.  He received a B.A. degree in 2015 from the University of Californa, Santa Barbara.

Mentor: Dr. Michael Teitell

Research project:

Mitochondria are essential for the survival of most eukaryotic cells, and mitochondrial dysregulation has been implicated in many human diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, and cardiovascular disease.  These double membrane-bound organelles control fundamental cellular functions, including oxidative phosphorylation, metabolism, the cell cycle, differentiation, calcium homeostasis, heme synthesis, and programmed cell death.  Recent studies suggest that cells can import and export mitochondria, with this phenomenon being particularly important for tumor cells to maintain tumorigenicity.  

My research focuses on understanding how newly imported mitochondria behave inside of recipient cells. I deliver mitochondria into live cells using novel delivery platforms co-developed in the Teitell laboratory to study how mitochondria function in new hosts.  Understanding how exogenous mitochondria enter cells and integrate into existing mitochondrial networks will enhance our understanding of basic cell biology and potentially elucidate new targets for treating cancer and other mitochondrial diseases.