Carolina Petrillo, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow Columbia University Medical Center

The CRI postdoctoral award will allow me to provide incisive insight into the role of mitochondrial dynamics and innate immunity in age-related hematological malignancies.
Area of Research: All Cancers, Leukemia

Blood is composed of different types of cells, all of which are generated from blood stem cells in the bone marrow. Because they are able to fully reform the blood and immune system after transplantation, blood stem cells are attractive targets for several disorders and have important clinical applications. Despite major advances in our understanding of the biology of the blood and immune system, maintaining and expanding these cells in culture is still challenging. Furthermore, the composition and number of these stem cells changes with age, as elderly people have suboptimal immune responses and their blood stem cells have a higher probability of becoming leukemic. 

Dr. Petrillo is investigating how mitochondria—the powerhouses of cells—appear able to dampen the effects of age on these blood stem cells. In particular, she has shown that knocking out a protein on the surface of the mitochondria can cause premature aging in stem cells via the induction of signaling in the immune-related interferon pathway. The goal of her research is to define how mitochondria influence stem cell aging and to characterize the role of interferon signaling in this process. Ultimately, she hopes to provide incisive insight into the biology of stem cells and in particular on mechanisms of stem cell aging and leukemia.

Projects and Grants

Role of Mitofusin 2 in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function and Age-Related Malignancies

Columbia University Medical Center | All Cancers | 2020 | Hans W. Snoeck, M.D., Ph.D.

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