WELCOME TO BIO-E SPACE
Welcome to Bio-E Space in the Laboratory of Cellular Energetics and Mitochondrial Disorders. We are located in the Daniel E. Ferritor Hall (FERR), Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. To learn more about our research interests, current lab members, collaborators, outreach activities and current research opportunities, please use the navigation links on top or right of the page.
WHAT IS BIO-E?
Bioenergetics (or Bio-E) is the study of the flow of energy in living systems within specialized cellular compartments called ‘Mitochondria’. They are the energy powerhouses of the cell. Mitochondria create more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MITOCHONDRIA FAIL?
When the mitochondria have problems, the energy our cells need to make our body work is diminished; and this can cause disease and aging. The diseases primarily affect children, but adults also are affected. Diseases of the mitochondria affect the cells of the brain, heart, liver, muscles, kidney, the endocrine and respiratory systems. Symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.
Our research program broadly involves understanding the genetics of and developing therapies for childhood and age-related mitochondrial diseases. We are generating patient-specific stem cells to facilitate therapies and understand cause and progression of mitochondrial diseases. Skin cells from a patient diagnosed with mitochondrial and other energy-deficiency diseases are being genetically reprogrammed into stem cells, and then transformed into neurons and muscle cells. Further studies will lay out the many steps in cellular bioenergetics that will help in understanding how stem cells are transformed into neurons and muscle cells in normal and diseased patients.
Shilpa Iyer, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biological SciencesPrincipal Investigator: Dr. Iyer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Prior to joining UA, she was Research Scientist in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her postdoctoral training in mitochondrial genetics at the Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of Virginia. She earned her Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. Please click here for brief vitae.
Graduate StudentAjibola Bakare, born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, finished his high school education in his home country before deciding to pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. He received his B.A in Biology from Transylvania University, Lexington, KY in 2015. His love for scientific research can be traced back to his time at this institution. He joined the lab in Fall 2016, and is pursuing his Ph.D in Cell and Molecular Biology. His research is focused on understanding how mitochondrial DNA transmission affects cellular energetics during reprogramming and differentiation of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells. He is currently getting trained in molecular biology, stem cell culture, biochemistry, and respirometry techniques.
Postdoctoral FellowIn the Fall of 2017, Ahmed Dhamad joined our lab as a postdoctoral fellow after he recently earned his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Arkansas. He conducted extensive proteomic and biochemical studies to identify and characterize several novel proteins interacting with estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), a nuclear transcription factor known to play a key role in breast cancer. He published some of his research findings in PLoS ONE. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Microbiology from Baghdad University in 2004 and 2006 respectively. His excitement and passion about bioenergetics and helping patients led him to join our team to investigate mitochondrial diseases and work towards better therapeutic strategies through generating and studying patient-specific stem cells.
Graduate StudentRaquel Palmer, was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She moved to Minnesota as a high school exchange student and began her undergraduate studies at the University of Northwestern before transferring to the University of Arkansas, where she received her BS in Biology. In 2013, she completed her MA in teaching through the University of Arkansas. She taught biology and IB biology at Bentonville High School for 4 years before deciding to pursue her PhD in cell and molecular biology at her Alma mater. Her love for research started as an undergraduate student, where she was actively involved in research at both institutions she attended. She joined the lab in Fall 2017. Her area of research is focused on better understanding some of the mechanisms related to nuclear-mitochondrial crosstalk in cell based models for human mitochondrial diseases.
Research AssistantJosh Stabach joined the lab in Spring 2016. He has over 11 years of experience as a senior scientist for the Department of Genetics at the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. He holds active licensure as a laboratory specialist in Clinical Cytogenetics from the American Society for Clinical Pathology CG(ASCP). He has extensive experience and expertise in both molecular genetic testing and cytogenetic testing. He obtained his B.A. in Diagnostic Genetics Sciences from the University of Connecticut. He is excited to bring the expertise from his clinical background to the research setting. He enjoys all of the exciting opportunities the lab has to offer and loves learning new theory and putting it into practice in the laboratory. He performs laboratory management responsibilities, culturing critical cell lines, training undergraduate students and working with state-of-the-art testing equipment in the Bioenergetics laboratory.
Undergraduate ResearcherJulienne Daniel joined the lab in Spring 2017. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Arkansas. Her major is Biology with a pre-medical emphasis, and is currently working on her honors thesis.
Undergraduate ResearcherChloe Cantrell joined the lab in Fall 2017. She is currently an undergraduate student, majoring in Biochemistry at the University of Arkansas.
- MitoEAGLE preprint (2017): The protonmotive force and respiratory control: Building blocks of mitochondrial physiology Part 1. – http://www.mitoeagle.org/index.php/MitoEAGLE_preprint_2017-09-21.
- Rao, R.R. and S. Iyer. (2015) Stem cells, Stem cells, neural progenitors, and engineered stem cells. Methods in Molecular Biology. 2015;1254:255-67.
- Iyer, S. (2013). Novel therapeutic approaches for Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. Discovery Medicine. Mar;15(82):141-9.
- Iyer, S., Bergquist, K.E., Young, K., Gnaiger, E., Rao, R.R., and J.P. Bennett. Jr. (2012). Mitochondrial gene therapy improves respiration, biogenesis and transcription in G11778A Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy and T8993G Leigh’s syndrome cells.Human Gene Therapy. Apr 17. [Epub ahead of print]. 2012.
Copyrights and Invention Disclosures
- “Might!TM The Energy Making Game”- VCU #16-062. Prototype Game is fully developed and has been tested.
Registered Copyright 2016. This technology is available for licensing to industry for further development and commercialization. Please click here for details.
Images and Techniques
Courses at UARK
BIOL 2533. Cell Biology; Spring 2017,2018 . 3 Hours.
Introduction to cell structure, cell processes, biological polymers, energetics, and diversity. An introduction to biochemistry and cell chemistry. Pre- or Corequisite: (CHEM 1123 and CHEM 1121L) or (CHEM 1223 and CHEM 1221L) or (CHEM 1133 and CHEM 1131L) or equivalent. Prerequisite: BIOL 1584 or BIOL 1543 and BIOL 1541L.
BIOL 480VH. Special Topics- STEAM-H; Fall 2017, Spring 2018. 1-3 Hours.
The STEAM-H team will participate and adopt cutting-edge transdisciplinary STEAM-H (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Arts, Mathematics, Health) team-based approaches by incorporating concepts from engineering design and artistic creative expression to create novel interactive educational modules to teach and engage a wide audience on contemporary public health issues in a fun and meaningful way.
Outreach & Education
We aim to spread awareness using gentle science approaches, as encouraged by Dr. Gnaiger. Our gentle science approaches recognizes the responsibility of the scientific community- for the quality of science, the quality of life in science, and its mission. This holistic learning environment and community engagement enables faculty and students to use contemporary digital technologies to spread awareness of mitochondrial health in realistic ways. Our past efforts led to a 3-month long exhibition at the Science Museum of Virginia. Please take some time to browse some of our work, displayed below.
Why STEAM-H approach?
A joint report from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) stated that, “The arts, the sciences and engineering uniquely contribute to the understanding and improvement of the human condition.” Therefore, a productive synergistic approach developed with mutual respect addressing questions of mutual interest, will lead us from STEM to STE(A)M to STEAM-(H) initiatives to communicate public health concerns.
What are our Goals?
With energy deficiency disorders on the rise, health and nutrition are important concepts for youth to understand. Our program provides students with opportunities to be involved in health-focused innovative problem-solving projects that is engaging and fun with the goal towards product development and increasing knowledge of mitochondrial health and bioenergetics
Publications and Presentations
- Tompkins, E., Faris, S., Hughes, L., Maurakis, E., Lesnefsky, E.J., Rao, R.R., and S. Iyer. (2017). Arts, Science, Engineering and Medicine Collaborate to Educate Public on Bioenergetics. Research Reports. [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1
- Iyer S, Woolman M, Rao RR. A science-based strategy game for understanding mitochondrial bioenergetics. 10th MiP School-Mitochondrial Physiology Society, Obergurgl, Austria. (Talk). (2017)
- Iyer, S., Rao R.R., Faris, S., Heller, F., Hughes, L., Jamison, R.D., Lesnefsky, E.J. and Maurakis, E. Bioenergetics Education: Art Meets Gentle Science In Sickness And In Health. Experimental Biology Annual Meeting (Poster)(2016).
- Iyer, S., Faris, S., Rao R.R., Maurakis, E., Lesnefsky, E.J. and R. Jamison. Arts and Engineering produce exhibits to promote mitochondrial health. Annual meeting of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (Talk).(2015).
STEAM-H Multimedia Outcomes
A Short Poem on Bioenergetics- Ayman Khan
From head to toe
In my body there is energy flow
It makes me read, jump and play
At night and all through the day
The energy in me is so rich and pure
It comes from what I eat and drink I am sure
How does it come and how does it go?
I believe there is a science that makes it flow
From atoms, to molecules to cell all in a row
If in a game of tennis I get knocked
The energy in me must have been blocked
To make myself awesome and athletic
I need to tune my body to being bioenergetic
In Tune- Kevin Ball
Nature the orchestrator
Waves her arms
Striking the first chord
of her ancient song
The audience seized
Dances to the familiar hum
Each, carried by the flow
Wound and spun
As the music slows
A greater force appears
The product of unity
Attributed to all
A reminder of the linkage
The most fundamental bond
Reliance on the whole
Improbability of being one
Ode to Mitochondria- Shilpa Iyer
Engulfed by bacteria
You constantly divide
To break down food
And release energy
And radicals all free
Cause havoc constantly
Some call it ROS
Others oxidative stress
Too much free oxygen
Is bound to be a mess
Important are you,
As each and every area
Need energy or two.
Alive in our body parts,
Beating in every heart
And in brain-muscle-retina,
Till death do us part.
A short poem on Bioenergetics- Jessica Bishop
Bioenergetics, what does it mean?
It’s about the flow of energy in your body
Whether you’re a kid, adult, or teen!
With every step you stomp
And every sentence you say,
Your mitochondria are busy making energy today.
They take what you eat
And convert it to fuel,
To help you grow, play, run,
And everything cool!
Erich Gnaiger, Ph.DProfessor: Dr. Gnaiger is a Professor at the Medical University of Innsbruck and CEO of Oroboros Instruments, Austria. Please click here for brief vitae.
Edward J. Lesnefsky, Jr., MDProfessor of Biochemistry, VCU; Chief of Cardiology, VA Medical Center, Richmond, VA: Dr. Lesnefsky works primarily at McGuire V.A. Medical Center where he is Chief of Cardiology, but his activities include administration, basic research and clinical cardiology at both McGuire VA Hospital and at VCU Medical Center. Please click here for brief vitae.
Franklin D. West, PhDAssociate Professor: Dr. West is Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Georgia. Please click here for brief vitae.
Gregory A. Buck, Ph.D.Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Biological Complexity: Dr. Buck is Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, VCU School of Medicine and Director, Center for the Study of Biological Complexity. Please click here for brief vitae.
Raj R. Rao, Ph.DProfessor: Dr. Rao is Professor and Department Head of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arkansas. Please click here for brief vitae.
Kyle Quinn, Ph.DAssistant Professor: Dr. Quinn is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arkansas. Please click here for brief vitae.
Sami Dridi, Ph.DAssociate Professor: Dr. Dridi is Associate Professor in Department of Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas. Please click here for brief vitae.
Matt Woolman, Graphic Design, Executive Director of Entrepreneurship, VCU School of the Arts
Andrew Ilnicki, Director of Academic Technology for VCU School of the Arts.
Jeff Foster, Assistant Director with the Center for Creative Economy, VCU School of the Arts
Sarah Faris, Communication Arts, VCU School of the Arts
Eugene Maurakis,Ph.D. Museum Scientist, Science Museum of Virginia; & Faculty, Department of Biology, University of Richmond
Russell D. Jamison, Ph.D. Professor, Biomedical Engineering, VCU School of Engineering
Please contact Dr. Iyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in research and public engagement activities. We are looking for motivated postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students to join us.
August 2016: Ajibola Bakare joins the BioE lab as the first PhD student through the CEMB program!! Welcome Aji!!
October 2016: We are excited to announce funding from the Department of Defense for our research!! Check out the news wire article here !!
October 2016: INBRE Workshop on STEAM-H at the Kittrell Art Gallery ! Thank you organizers!!
February 2017: Joshua Stabach joins the BioE lab as our Research Assistant. Welcome Josh!! And a trip to Georgia to learn about Stem cell culture techniques and meet our mentors! Aji sitting at my old desk when I was a graduate student at UGA!!
March 2017 : Our first Lab meeting !! The lab is growing! Full of undergraduates and Aji!!
April 2017: Honored to have been invited to present ongoing research at the Southeast Regional Symposium on Mitochondrial Medicine at Birmingham, Ala. The events were sponsored by Mitochondrial Medicine and United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. For more details click here!!
May 2017: Excited about starting STEAM-H at UArk in partnership with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to the many hands and minds who are making this happen!! For more information please read here!!
June 2017: Oral presentation at the National Annual Meeting of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation at Washington, D.C. Great symposium for networking with physicians, researchers, patients and families students and postdocs.
July 2017: Oral presentations on ongoing research and education at the 10th MiPschool 2017 MITOEAGLE and MITOEAGLE Workshop WG1-4 at Obergurgl, Austria. Check conference website for details. Click here for Programme details
August 2017: Raquel Palmer joins the BioE lab as as the second PhD student through the CEMB program!! Ahmed joins the BioE lab as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Welcome Raquel and Ahmed!!
October 2017: INBRE Workshop on STEAM-H. Thanks to the organizers for providing us a forum to showcase our STEAM-H efforts. We are so thankful for the space provided to us at the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub
November 2017: Oral presentation at the MiP2017/MitoEAGLE Hradec Kralove CZ. Check conference website for details. Left : with Jedi Masters : Prof. Charles Hoppel (center) and Prof. Erich Gnaiger (right).
December 2017 :The BIOE-Padawans are definitely settling in … “May the midichlorian force be with you”