Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Mitochondrial Health

Martin Picard: ‘An Energetic View of the Brain-Body Connection’



Martin Picard, principal investigator at Columbia University’s Mitochondrial Signaling Lab, delivered the 2018 Kaufman Repage Lecture in Wagner College’s Spiro Hall, giving us “An Energetic View of the Brain-Body Connection.”
In advance of the lecture, Picard summarized his talk this way: “How are our individuals experiences — what we feel, think, and imagine — translated into biological and physiological changes? Why does chronic life stress accelerate biological aging and predispose to disease? We will explore these questions from an energetic perspective involving the mitochondria: unique organelles that populate cells of the body and generate the energy necessary for life. The proposed view that mitochondria are an interface between the brain and body is a theoretical shift with important implications for medicine, and is currently the subject of active research.”
Martin Picard received his B.Sc. Honours in neuroimmunology at McGill University in 2007. He remained at McGill for his graduate work with Drs. Taivassalo, Hepple and Burelle, earning his Ph.D. in mitochondrial biology of aging in 2012. He then moved to the University of Pennsylvania for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine with Doug Wallace. There, he worked on interactions between mitochondria, mitochondrial reprogramming of the nuclear transcriptome, and mitochondrial stress pathophysiology along with Bruce McEwen. In 2015, he joined the faculty at Columbia University.
Today, Picard’s translational research program investigates the mechanisms by which acquired and inherited mitochondrial defects contribute to the damaging effects of metabolic and neuroendocrine stressors. His laboratory addresses this question by combining genetic and molecular manipulation of mitochondrial structure and functions, with systems biology approaches to capture meaningful patterns of (dys)regulation. Experimental systems used in his research include cellular, animal, and human disease models. Martin Picard’s work integrates knowledge from basic mitochondrial biology, neuroscience, stress physiology, and mitochondrial medicine to explore conserved organizing principles of mitochondrial signal transduction, and examine the underlying mechanisms operating across levels of complexity — from organelle to organism.
THE KAUFMAN REPAGE LECTURE, a celebration of Wagner College’s commitment to scholarly work and open inquiry, is sponsored by former Wagner College trustee Dr. Louise S. Kaufman ’75 M’78 H’12 and her husband, Dr. Peter Kaufman. They established the lecture series in 2006 with the goal of bringing noted speakers to campus and the community. Past speakers have included former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins; Ken Jackson, professor of history and social science at Columbia University; Rebecca Skloot, author of the award-winning book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”; Bonnie Bassler, Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and a 2002 MacArthur Fellow; Joel Kotkin, author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,” and Bruce Chadwick, Rutgers scholar of American history and former Daily News sports writer.

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