Dr Georgia Carson (Ngāti Whakaue) received her PhD from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, working under the supervision of Associate Professor Melanie McConnell and Professor Mike Berridge. The main aim of her PhD was developing and validating molecular methods to identify mitochondrial transfer amongst leukaemic and non-leukaemic cells in a murine bone marrow model. She assembled a technique that would detect this transfer at a rare level, and identified cases of mitochondria moving between cells of the bone marrow in vivo.
Dr Carson is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Berridge Lab and is the Malaghan Institute's Māori Engagement Advisor.
"Cancer cells are known to alter their metabolism, changing the balance between mitochondrial and glycolytic production of ATP to allow them to better survive and metastasise. Previous work in our lab revealed that cells lacking mitochondrial DNA were unable to respire and form tumours unless they acquired mitochondria with mitochondrial DNA from normal cells (via mitochondrial transfer), although mitochondrial ATP generation was not necessary for tumour formation. In my current project, I am interested in investigating what signals drive this mitochondrial transfer, what immune responses are involved, and whether mitochondrial ATP is required for metastasis. I am also working on developing a mitochondrial gene expression based assay for Parkinson’s disease."