Mission: Breaking through the current bottlenecks in fundamental mitochondrial biochemistry, drug design and therapeutic compounds.
The health of every living organism is dependent on metabolism, a basic process of life that captures and releases the energy contained in foods we eat to help fuel the body. Within nearly every cell type in the body are tiny, pill-shaped structures called mitochondria. These are the powerhouses for the cells, allowing proper growth, enabling the organs and muscles of the body to function effectively, and providing us with the energy needed for good health. Defects in mitochondrial function can result in serious, often fatal, diseases.
The Center for BioEnergetics, directed by Sidney Hecht, PhD, focuses on improved diagnoses and treatments for diseases caused by impaired energy metabolism. The majority of these diseases are degenerative and affect children and young adults.
They include heart, liver or kidney disease; diabetes; poor growth; loss of muscle function; vision and hearing problems; developmental delays or mental retardation; respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders; and dementia. So in addition to impacting children, impairment to the mitochondria has been implicated as a factor in aging. Dysfunctional mitochondria are associated with Parkinson's disease, atherosclerotic heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. On the other end of the spectrum, optimal mitochondrial function has been linked with peak physical performance, such as that exhibited by top athletes.