Prof. Douglas C. Wallace, Director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenetic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, USA, visited the Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad from 12-15 March 2023. He also holds the Michael and Charles Barnett Endowed Chair in Pediatric Mitochondrial Medicine and Metabolic diseases.
Prof Wallace is a pioneer in the area of human mitochondrial genetics and is also an evolutionary biologist. Prof. Wallace and his colleagues founded the field of mitochondrial genetics more than 35 years ago. The first of his many landmark findings has been that mitochondrial DNA is exclusively maternally inherited. Prof. Wallace delivered the distinguished lecture titled, ‘Mitochondrial Medicine in the Pandemic Era’ under the University of Hyderabad ‘Distinguished Lecture Series’ at the Life Sciences Auditorium. Prof. Wallace showed how mitochondrial DNA variation can be used to trace and reconstruct the origin and migration of our female ancestors. He emphasized the importance of mitochondrial energy homeostasis and its link to disease outcomes. Prof. Wallace went on to show how mitochondrial DNA can be used as a molecular marker for human diseases as genetic alterations in the mitochondrial DNA can result in a wide range of diseases, including metabolic, degenerative, cancer, and aging. Notably, he shared his recent work that shows how the SARS-COV2 virus hijacks the mitochondrial DNA for its propagation.
Prof. Wallace’s visit laid the foundation for a collaborative work funded by the GATES Foundation between his group at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, USA, and Prof. Naresh Babu V. Sepuri’s group at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Hyderabad, to understand the mitochondrial DNA variation in the context of Covid19 infection severity.