Former member of the International Faculty
Professor at Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology; University of California, Davis
Dr. Nunnari received her bachelors degree with honors in Chemistry from the College of Wooster. She performed her graduate work at Vanderbilt University in Pharmacology and her postdoctoral research at UCSF in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics with Dr. Peter Walter. She is currently a Professor and former Chair in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Davis, where her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms and functions of mitochondrial behaviors in cells. Dr. Nunnari is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Plank Institute for Biology of Ageing, the American Society for Cell Biology Public Policy Committee, and on the Editorial Boards of eLife, Traffic and is a Senior Editor at the Journal of Cell Biology. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the American Heart Association.
Dr. Nunnari's laboratory is focused on understanding how mitochondrial behavior is controlled in cells. Her lab’s work has addressed the physiological functions and mechanisms of mitochondrial division and fusion, which are important determinants of overall mitochondrial shape and distribution. They have uncovered contact sites that intimately link mitochondria with the ER and determined their roles in mitochondrial positioning and dynamics and mtDNA segregation. They have also addressed the fundamental question of how mitochondrial membranes are sub-compartmentalized to reveal how the complex internal architecture of the organelle is generated. Given the complex and integrative nature of mitochondria it is not surprising that defects in mitochondrial functions have emerged as a causative and/or contributive factors in an increasing number of diverse human diseases. Given this, their current challenge is to translate their mechanistic and cell biological findings into an understanding of how mitochondrial dysfunction affects the physiology of cells and organisms and to use system-based approaches to address how mitochondrial behaviors are integrated with one another and physiologically regulated within cells and organisms.
Contribution to the KPA I:
Her work on mitochondria interfaces with the programs of many faculty members in CECAD, including Thomas Langer, Elena Rugarli, and Nils Larsson.