Newcastle University Academic Track Fellowships NUAcT

Uwe Richter

Dr Uwe Richter

I am a Berlin-bred scientist, who has carried out research around the globe from Berlin, Edinburgh (UK), Ithaca (USA), Perth (Australia) to Helsinki (Finland). As a child from behind the Iron Curtain, I dreamt myself to the stars by watching Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Star Trek. In hindsight, no wonder I started to study biology and specifically midi-chlorians, I mean mitochondria, of course. Mitochondria are the energy-generating organelles of our cells, or as Jedi master Qui-Gon put it "…are microscopic life-forms that reside within the cells of all living things and communicate with the force." In my research I have identified a gene expression quality control process that is fighting bad protein production inside mitochondria. In future work, I would like to capitalize on this finding and determine the key factors involved in this quality control process. Secondly, I will study how the rest of the cell responds to bad protein production in mitochondria. We suspect such understanding is key to the development of pharmacological treatments for mitochondrial disease caused by gene expression defects; patients who suffer from these disorders have no treatment option to date. To once more quote Qui-Gon: "When you learn to quiet your mind, you will hear them speaking to you." As a NUAcT fellow here in Newcastle at the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, I will endeavor to understand how stressed mitochondria speak to us, aiming to improve the life of patients with mitochondrial disease. May the force be with us.