Areas of Interest
My research interests include studying cellular bioenergetics and metabolism in a physiological context, because of this I was happy to join the Molecular and Integrative Physiology department at the University of Michigan and continue my scientific training in Ken Inoki’s laboratory. The Inoki lab focuses in studying the mechanistic target of rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1), a major energy sensor which in response to growth factors and amino acids plays essential roles in a wide array of cellular processes including protein translation, gene transcription, apoptosis and autophagy.
Amino acids such as leucine, arginine, and glutamine are particularly important in activating mTORC1, yet the precise molecular mechanisms by which glutamine stimulates mTORC1 remain elusive. My project in the Inoki laboratory consists in characterizing how glutamine and its derived metabolites stimulate mTORC1 activity. As glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the blood, it is particularly important in cell growth and metabolism. Elucidating a new pathway by which glutamine stimulates mTORC1 activity may provide unique mechanisms that beside amino acids, amino acid metabolites also function as cellular cues for mTORC1 activation.