Can you imagine the main power plant of a major city failing? This can lead to widespread problems and create havoc. This is what happens in our cells when mitochondria are damaged or stop working. These tiny organelles are the sites responsible for the energy needed to sustain life. They control cell function but also determine how cells die. Mitochondria dysfunction underpins several devastating human diseases like cancer, neurodegeneration and diabetes. Primary mitochondrial diseases are complex, often misdiagnosed and incurable. Mitochondria research has provided seminal discoveries and goes from strength to strength with major discoveries having broader ramifications for cellular health. Many of these recent advances have resulted from astute combination of interdisciplinary approaches involving chemistry, physics, data science and applying these in fundamental questions of mitochondrial biology with a view to provide therapeutic advances in mitochondrial medicine. These are exciting times for mitochondria research which moves at unprecedented pace, is impactful, international and highly interdisciplinary.
The RSE Regional Champions event ‘Mitochondria and Us’ is the first of its kind in Scotland and organised in the context of the Global Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week 2020. It will provide a global forum to share a crossover of interdisciplinary expertise, practice and personal experiences to explore the cutting-edge advances of mitochondria research and their impact to society. International experts from across different disciplines will shed light on how mitochondria are made, how they sustain cell life under stress and how they control physiology and cell death. We then bring together patient groups, educators, social scientists and designers, to share stories of what the understanding of mitochondria means for people and society. This event will showcase new, compelling and yet challenging areas for exploration joining up traditionally siloed disciplines. It will act as a powerful driver for communication and awareness in creative and engaging ways, stimulate new inquiries and reach new audiences at a global scale.
The main organiser is Professor Kostas Tokatlidis FRSE, Cathcart Chair of the University of Glasgow. His research focuses on how mitochondria assemble and function and how they can combat damaging stress insults in human disease. As the Head of the Mitochondrial Biology Laboratory in the University of Glasgow, he is developing (with his international research team) their research engaging with several world-leading groups based in Glasgow and Scotland, fostering a unique blend of expertise and a thriving research environment.
The event will allow the excellent research base in Scotland to join forces with one of the leading Art Schools (GSA) and showcase their cross-sector connections and innovation base with the support of the RSE and the Lily Foundation.