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Open Day 2014

On 25 June 2014 the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit (MBU) opened its doors again to the public.

Visitors included local residents and students from local sixth form colleges. MBU scientists gave a series of talks and demonstrations on mitochondria and how mitochondrial dysfunction leads to illness and ageing.

Visitors also attended a “meet the scientists” session, where members further explained their work through the use of posters, movies and video games.

Cambridge Science Festival 2014

On 23 March 2014 at the Cambridge Science Festival, scientists from the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit (MBU) used posters, movies and computer games, created by Henry Harling, to demonstrate how mitochondrial dysfunction leads to illness and ageing.

Visitors were given an explanation of heteroplasmy - when an individual has mutant as well as normal mitochondrial DNA - which was demonstrated by the Heteroplasmy video game.

Our Patron: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

In June 2013, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal agreed to extend her Patronage of the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit for a further three years.

This is wonderful news for the Unit as it further progresses towards its scientific aims. The Princess Royal's association with the Unit began in 1990 when Her Royal Highness became Patron of the Dunn Nutrition Unit and we are delighted that The Princess Royal has taken a keen interest in our work during several stages of the Unit's evolvement.

Massimo Zeviani awarded the Grand Prix of the NRJ Foundation in Paris

On Wednesday, 5 June 2013, Professor Massimo Zeviani will be presented with the 2013 Grand Prix of the NRJ Foundation, on "Genetics of degenerative diseases", under the cupola of the Institute of France. The award is made to support Professor Zeviani’s work on the genetics of mitochondrial diseases. "The Prize of the NRJ Foundation will allow me to continue my research which aims at understanding why mitochondrial deficiency leads to brain damage and how to correct or even halt the progression of disease in patients." - Massimo Zeviani

Cambridge Science Festival 2013

The festival this year saw the premiere of three new animations. The first animation shows all of the major organelles of the human cell, including a dynamic network of mitochondria that are involved in fusion and fission events. The basic structure of a mitochondrion with the inner and outer membrane and cristae is also explained. The second one illustrates some of the major events of energy conversion at the mitochondrial inner membrane, featuring isocitrate dehydrogenase, Complex I, ATP synthase, mitochondrial transport proteins, the voltage gated anion channel, and hexokinase.

Cambridge Science Festival 2012

To highlight the central role that mitochondria play in cellular energy metabolism, we produced an animation showing the breakdown of a simple sugar molecule; from its uptake in the intestine to the series of energy conversion steps that lead to the synthesis of ATP in the mitochondrial matrix. After the sugar molecule enters the blood stream in the intestine, it is taken up by the human cell and undergoes a series of breakdown reactions in the cytoplasm of the cell to form pyruvate, which is subsequently transported into the mitochondrion (see figure below).

Directorship of the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit

After fifteen years as Director of this Unit, John Walker has stepped down from this role. Known originally as the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, it was renamed the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in 2009. John will continue to pursue his research interests at the MBU.

John Walker receives the Nation's top scientific accolade

At its Anniversary Day (30 November 2012), The Royal Society of London, this country's Academy of Sciences, celebrated the award of its premier distinction, the 2012 Copley Medal, to Sir John Walker for his contributions towards understanding how energy is produced in biology. The Copley Medal, first given in 1731 is the world's oldest award for scientific achievement, predating the Nobel Prize by 170 years. Previous winners include Captain James Cook, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Francis Crick and Stephen Hawking.


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