Wellcome Trust Centre For Mitochondrial Research

Pavandeep Rai


I studied for a Bachelors in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham during which I completed a placement year at AstraZeneca where I was first introduced to mitochondrial research. I worked in the toxicology department where I studied the effect of compounds on mitochondrial dysfunction.

In 2013 I moved to Newcastle to commence my postgraduate research, firstly as an MRes in Mitochondrial Biology and currently, a PhD in assay development for drug discovery for mitochondrial disease.

Research Project: Developing cell based assays to discover drugs for mitochondrial disease

Principal Investigators: Prof Sir Doug Turnbull, Prof. Bob Lightowlers and Prof. Rob Taylor

Project Details: 

There are currently no curative therapies for mitochondrial disease that correct the underlying biochemical dysfunction that causes symptoms. In order to identify potential compounds, a cell based assay is required that can detect changes in mitochondrial phenotypes in a high throughput manner. To understand the mechanisms that these compounds might be using to have their effect, a specialised cellular model is required that better represents the tissues affected by the disease.

My project, in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical company aims to utilise Immortalised fibroblasts carrying a Complex I mutation to develop a high throughput screen in order to monitor the effects of compounds held within the Novartis library. To further investigate compounds highlighted by the screen, patient derived fibroblasts where reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) which will be differentiated into neurones and myoblasts in order to better model the disease phenotype.